How was the Underground Railroad like a real railroad?
- Nope! Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a railroad in the way Amtrak or commuter rail is. It wasn’t even a real railroad. It was a metaphoric one, where “conductors,” that is basically escaped slaves and intrepid abolitionists, would lead runaway slaves from one “station,” or save house to the next.
How were quilts used in the Underground Railroad?
The seamstress would hang the quilts in full view one at a time, allowing the slaves to reinforce their memory of the pattern and its associated meaning. When slaves made their escape, they used their memory of the quilts as a mnemonic device to guide them safely along their journey, according to McDaniel.
What was the Underground Railroad for dummies?
The Underground Railroad was a term used for a network of people, homes, and hideouts that slaves in the southern United States used to escape to freedom in the Northern United States and Canada.
What did slaves eat on the Underground Railroad?
In all contexts, enslaved people would have likely grown and eaten okra, corn, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes, as well as raised pigs, chickens, and goats, some for market.
What did slaves do in the Underground Railroad?
Slaves created so-called “freedom quilts” and hung them at the windows of their homes to alert escaping fugitives to the location of safe houses and secure routes north to freedom. 5. The Underground Railroad was a large-scale activity that enabled hundreds of thousands of people to escape their bondage.
What was the code for the Underground Railroad?
The code words often used on the Underground Railroad were: “ tracks” (routes fixed by abolitionist sympathizers); “stations” or “depots” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “agents” (sympathizers who helped the slaves connect to the Railroad); “station masters” (those who hid slaves in
What is the Underground Railroad quilt code?
A quilting pattern often overlooked in today’s society is the Underground Railroad quilt code. Used during the time of abolition and the Civil War, this visual code sewn into the pattern of quilts readied slaves for their upcoming escape and provided them directions when they were on their way to freedom.
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.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman save?
Fact: According to Tubman’s own words, and extensive documentation on her rescue missions, we know that she rescued about 70 people —family and friends—during approximately 13 trips to Maryland.
What did the slaves do for fun?
During their limited leisure hours, particularly on Sundays and holidays, slaves engaged in singing and dancing. Though slaves used a variety of musical instruments, they also engaged in the practice of “patting juba” or the clapping of hands in a highly complex and rhythmic fashion. A couple dancing.
How long did slaves live?
As a result of this high infant and childhood death rate, the average life expectancy of a slave at birth was just 21 or 22 years, compared to 40 to 43 years for antebellum whites. Compared to whites, relatively few slaves lived into old age.
How much did slaves get paid working?
Wages varied across time and place but self-hire slaves could command between $100 a year (for unskilled labour in the early 19th century) to as much as $500 (for skilled work in the Lower South in the late 1850s).
How does Underground Railroad end?
In the end, Royal is killed and a grief-stricken Cora is caught again by Ridgeway. Ridgeway forces Cora to take him to an Underground Railroad station, but as they climb down the entrance’s rope ladder she pulls Ridgeway off and they fall to the ground.
How many slaves died trying to escape?
At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.
How did Harriet Tubman use the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman was an escaped enslaved woman who became a “ conductor ” on the Underground Railroad, leading enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War, all while carrying a bounty on her head.
How the Underground Railroad Worked
A slave in 1850 didn’t have many options when it came to his or her life. In the alternative, he may choose to remain on his master’s plantation, accepting an existence of hard labor and frequently cruel physical punishment, as well as the possibility of a fractured family, as he saw his loved ones being sold into servitude. Although not all slaves lived in the same way, this was the kind of life he might expect if he remained in bondage. Alternatively, he may flee. Making a break for it was a very dicey possibility.
Upon being apprehended, not only did the fugitive face virtually certain death, but the rest of the slaves on his property were frequently present when he was executed and were punished as a result of their presence.
The runaway had to be on his guard at all times since outsiders may recognize him as a slave and give him in, and other slaves could rat him out in order to gain favor with their owners.
Although he could receive some assistance from strangers along the route, everyone who was friendly to him was also suspicious.
- The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 (which was made even harsher in 1850) provided that if his master could locate him, he could bring his “property” back to the South as a slave – assuming the master didn’t kill him first.
- As a result, the greatest chance a runaway had was to make it to Canada.
- But, if he does make it, he will be free.
- However, according to at least one estimate, more over 100,000 slaves would take their chances to start a new life during the 1800s.
A Ride on the Underground Railroad
Because of the Underground Railroad’s secrecy, it is difficult to determine its exact roots and where it came from. There are several hypotheses as to how it began, but no definitive answers. Its organizers were unable to place “open for business” advertisements in their respective local newspapers. When it comes to chronology, the fact that the real train system wasn’t established until the 1820s provides some clues: if there was an escape mechanism in place before then, it was almost certainly not known as the Underground Railroad.
- During the 1820s, anti-slavery organizations were beginning to take shape, and by the 1840s, there was a well-organized network of people who helped escaped slaves.
- Each voyage was unique, but we’ll concentrate on the period between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s, which was the height of the Underground Railroad.
- Field agents – frequently a traveling clergyman or doctor dressed as salespeople or census takers – were sometimes dispatched by free blacks to establish contact with a slave who want to emancipate himself.
- When the slave first escaped from the plantation, the agent arranged for him to be transferred to a conductor who would take him on his first leg of the voyage.
- Stations were normally spaced separated by a day’s ride on the railroad.
- These dwellings were frequently equipped with secret corridors and compartments for concealing a large number of fugitives.
- Running away in plain clothes (so that the escaped may appear as a traveling worker) was usual, but it wasn’t uncommon for a fugitive to dress as a member of the opposing sexual orientation.
- Siebert’s seminal work, “The Underground Railroad,” as being loaned a white infant as part of her disguise.
- Runaways were seldom on their own when traveling; instead, conductors directed them to the appropriate stops.
- That meant moving at night, following the North Star, and concealing himself in plain sight during the day.
- There are countless accounts of runaways becoming disoriented and traveling for weeks out of their path or accidentally traveling further south.
Furthermore, while clear nights were the greatest for traveling, wet days were also beneficial because less people were out on the streets. So, what happened when a runaway slave eventually made it to the United States’ northernmost territory? Continue reading to find out.
The Fugitive Slave Act
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 provided local authorities in both slave and free states the authority to issue warrants to “remove” any black person whom they suspected of being an escaped slave, according to the federal government. It also made it a federal criminal to assist a slave who had escaped. Despite the fact that the legislation was rarely implemented in non-slave states, it was reinforced in 1850 with increased penalties and harsher sentences. To make matters worse, the slave hunters could legally declare that every black person they saw was an escaped slave, which not only scared free blacks but also infuriated a large number of whites.
- Northerners were appalled.
- As a result, punishment in the North for white people and free blacks who participated in escapes was not as severe at first – often a fee for the loss of “property” and a brief jail sentence that was not always enforced.
- Whites who armed slaves, which was often required during the treacherous path, faced the possibility of execution if caught.
- The state of Pennsylvania contemplated repealing the Fugitive Slave Act in its original form (much like South Carolina would nullify part of the Constitution when seceding from the Union).
- Southern slave holders were not pleased with this and requested that the measure be put into effect immediately.
- In the 1857Dred Scottcase, the Supreme Court declared that blacks, whether free or slave, were not citizens and so did not have any rights to the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
- Although the Underground Railroad is frequently discussed in isolation from the Civil War, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that its operations had a significant role in precipitating the conflict.
- These anti-slavery organizations went on to become political parties such as the Free Soil Party and the Republican Party, which would be responsible for introducing Abraham Lincoln to the United States.
And, as they say, the rest, as they say, was history. So, what happened when a runaway slave eventually made it to the United States’ northernmost territory? Continue reading to discover out.
Life After Escape
In other cases, depending on where the runaway was coming from, the trek to freedom may be completed in as little as 24 hours (on a train from Richmond, Va., to Philadelphia, for instance). It might take several years as well (escaping on foot from the Deep South). But, more importantly, where did the fugitives wind up? The majority of people believe that the Underground Railroad ran from slavery-torn southern states to free states in the north. That is correct, however the vast majority of fugitives fled to Canada, where they would be protected from prosecution under the Fugitive Slave Act.
- Slaves were also able to flee to Spanish-controlled Mexico and Florida from the Deep South, where the voyage north was all the more perilous because of the terrain.
- There, he would frequently have to wait until someone could obtain safe passage for him on a northern boat or train – a situation in which bribes were frequently used to achieve safe passage.
- However, they were more likely to carry on to Canada.
- However, the act also strengthened Northern abolitionists, who could now argue that the South was forcing slavery on the North as a result of the act.
- Once runaways arrived at their location, interracial organizations called asvigilance committees would aid them in creating a new life in their new environment.
- Successful runaways would occasionally attempt to repurchase enslaved family members, which was a risky strategy because it may potentially reveal their current whereabouts.
- Who were they, and how did they manage to collaborate in such a well guarded network?
How did people get involved with the Underground Railroad?
The majority of those who escaped slavery, particularly in the early years of the Underground Railroad’s operation, were males who traveled alone since it was a tough journey and traveling in groups attracted greater attention. However, as the number of migrants expanded, so did the ingenuity of conductors, who devised novel ways for large groups of people to move. Railroad volunteers transformed their homes by constructing secret corridors and chambers (one house inGettysburg, Pa., now converted into a restaurant, still has a movable bookcase that reveals a hiding place for fugitives).
The majority of those who assisted slaves in escaping were free and enslaved blacks, however some whites did assist as well.
Before the 1830s, most individuals along the path were only vaguely acquainted with one another, if at all, by word of mouth.
When the number of people who joined anti-slavery organisations grew, this began to alter. People grew more acquainted with one another as a result of the increased organization.
Underground Railroad Workers
It is estimated that there were around 3,200 “underground employees,” over half of whom were located in the state of Ohio. However, because to the importance placed on secrecy, there was no official or written organization in place. Individual performance and overall reputation were used to select who would be the next leader. The majority of the people who were participating in the Underground Railroad have been lost to history, and their experiences have gone unsung for many generations. And, as a result of the scarcity of written records, the anecdotes that have survived are primarily found as footnotes in history textbooks.
- Harriet Tubman was the most well-known Underground Railroad conductor, and she was dubbed “the Moses of her people” because of her achievements.
- When she went to the South for the first time to assist family members in escaping, she learned that her liberated husband had chosen a new wife and was hesitant to accompany them.
- Bordewich, this tragedy hardened her, which may explain why Tubman would not accept runaways who were terrified or distressed.
- While making the perilous voyage 13 more times and personally guiding at least 70 slaves to freedom in New York and Canada, Tubman’s lack of emotion helped keep her alive.
How many slaves escaped using the Underground Railroad?
It is estimated that there were around 3,200 “underground employees,” over half of whom were located in Ohio, according to some estimates. The fact that there was no formal or written organization was due to the importance placed on secrecy. Individual performance and overall reputation were used to determine who would be in charge. The majority of the persons who were participating in the Underground Railroad have been lost to history, and their experiences have gone unreported for many years in the public domain.
- White Southerners whose ancestors assisted fugitives are still subjected to considerable social shame today.
- A former slave from Maryland, Tubman was an escaped slave herself.
- According to author Fergus M.
- In other cases, she even threatened to murder them, which was a cruel necessity given the possibility that their panicked cries might be heard by slave hunters and they would be captured.
While making the perilous voyage 13 more times and personally guiding at least 70 slaves to freedom in New York and Canada, Tubman’s lack of emotion helped her stay alive.
Lots More Information
- Lori Aratani, Adventure Cycling Association
- Adventure Cycling Association. In Maryland’s backyard, visitors may retrace their steps to freedom at Sandy Spring Underground Railroad State Park. Bordewich, Fergus M., The Washington Post, October 19, 2006
- Bordewich, Fergus M. “We’re on our way to Canaan.” HarperCollins Publishing Company, 2005
- Clark, Jayne. According to the article, “New cycling paths trace the Underground Railroad.” The Emancipation Network
- Harris, Patricia, and David Lyon
- The Emancipation Network, USA Today, March 9, 2007. “Houses served as important stopping points for the Underground Railroad.” The Boston Globe, April 4, 2007
- Steven Howell, “The Boston Globe,” April 4, 2007. “The Exporail exhibit delves into the mysteries of the Underground Railroad.” James M. McPherson and the International Justice Mission were featured in The Gazette (Montreal) on February 9, 2007. “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era” is a book on the American Civil War. The Milton House Museum
- National Geographic: The Underground Railroad
- National Park Service guide to the Underground Railroad
- National Park Service online history book
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
- Okur, Nilgun Anadolu
- Ballantine Books, 1988
- The Milton House Museum
- Okur, Nilgun Anadolu “Philadelphia’s Underground Railroad, 1830 – 1860,” a book published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Polaris Project
- Preston, E. Delorus, Jr.
- Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 25, No. 5 (May 1995)
- Preston, E. Delorus, Jr. “The Underground Railroad in Northwest Ohio,” according to the author. The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 17, No. 4 (October, 1932)
- “railroad” is a reference to the railroad. The Encyclopedia Britannica published in 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 28 January 2008
- Siebert, Wilbur H. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 28 January 2008
- Slavery to Freedom on the Underground Railroad” is the title of this article. “The Underground Railroad and the Secret Codes of Antebellum Slave Quilts,” published by the Macmillan Company in 1898, is a fascinating read. Underground Railroad Living Museum:
- The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Vol. 46, No. 1, Winter 2004-2005
- The Underground Railroad Living Museum:
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?
According to historical records, the Quakers were the first organized organization to actively assist fugitive slaves. When Quakers attempted to “liberate” one of Washington’s enslaved employees in 1786, George Washington took exception to it. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were fleeing their masters’ hands. Abolitionist societies founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitives at the same time.
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
Those enslaved persons who were assisted by the Underground Railroad were primarily from border states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland (see map below). Fugitive slave capture became a lucrative industry in the deep South after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, and there were fewer hiding places for escaped slaves as a result. Refugee enslaved persons usually had to fend for themselves until they reached specified northern locations. In the runaway enslaved people’s journey, they were escorted by people known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were among the hiding spots.
Stationmasters were the individuals in charge of running them.
Others traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, while others passed through Detroit on their route to the Canadian border.
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.
She was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, and her name is Harriet Tubman. In 1849, she and two of her brothers managed to escape from a farm in Maryland, where they were born into slavery under the name Araminta Ross. Harriet Tubman was her married name at the time. While they did return a few of weeks later, Tubman set out on her own shortly after, 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 people.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other runaway slaves to the Maryland state capital of Fredericksburg. In order to avoid being captured by the United States, Tubman would transport parties of escapees to Canada.
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
Abolitionist He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was during this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, an organization dedicated to aiding fleeing slaves in their journey to Canada. With the abolitionist movement, Brown would play a variety of roles, most notably leading an assault on Harper’s Ferry to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people under threat of death. Eventually, Brown’s forces were defeated, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two of them were jailed for aiding an escaped enslaved woman and her child escape.
- When Charles Torrey assisted an enslaved family fleeing through Virginia, he was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland.
- was his base of operations; earlier, he had served as an abolitionist newspaper editor in Albany, New York.
- In addition to being fined and imprisoned for a year, Walker had the letters “SS” for Slave Stealer tattooed on his right hand.
As a slave trader, Fairfield’s strategy was to travel across the southern states. Twice he managed to escape from prison. Tennessee’s arebellion claimed his life in 1860, and he was buried there.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was during this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting runaway enslaved persons in their escape to Canada. With the abolitionist movement, Brown would play a variety of roles, most notably leading an assault on Harper’s Ferry to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Brown’s soldiers were beaten, and Brown was executed for treason in 1859.
- In 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved woman and her child in their escape.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their escape across Virginia.
- Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was jailed in 1844 when he was apprehended with a boatload of freed slaves who were on their way to the United States from the Caribbean.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to rescue the enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their relatives as they made their way north.
- He managed to break out of jail twice.
When describing a network of meeting spots, hidden routes, passages, and safehouses used by slaves in the United States to escape slave-holding states and seek refuge in northern states and Canada, the Underground Railroad was referred to as the Underground Railroad (UR). The underground railroad, which was established in the early 1800s and sponsored by persons active in the Abolitionist Movement, assisted thousands of slaves in their attempts to escape bondage. Between 1810 and 1850, it is estimated that 100,000 slaves escaped from bondage in the southern United States.
Facts, information and articles about the Underground Railroad
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. 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 flee their bonds of slavery. Between 1810 and 1850, it is estimated that 100,000 slaves escaped from slavery in the South.
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 U.S. Constitution.
When describing a network of meeting locations, 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 employed. 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.
Estimates range between 6,000 and 10,000.
Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. William Still is a well-known author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin. John Fairfield is a well-known author.
Harriet Tubman is a historical figure who lived during the American Civil War. She was a pioneer in the fight against slavery. William Still is an American author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by the author Levi Coffin in the fictional world of the novel Levi Coffin John Fairfield is a well-known author and illustrator.
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
Runaway assistance appears to have occurred well before the nineteenth century. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his fugitive slaves by “a organization of Quakers, created specifically for this reason.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge in the nineteenth century. It is possible that their influence had a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, given it was home to many Quakers at the time.
Due to his role in the Underground Railroad, Levi is sometimes referred to as its president.
“Eliza” was one of the slaves who hid within it, and her narrative served as the inspiration for the character of the same name in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (published in 1852).
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.
Myths About the Underground Railroad
When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery enabled those events to take place, never to be lost again. Among our ancestors’ long and dreadful history of human bondage is the Underground Railroad, which has garnered more recent attention from teachers, students, museum curators, and the tourism industry than any other institution from the black past.
- Nevertheless, in the effort to convey the narrative of this magnificent institution, fiction and lore have occasionally taken precedence over historical truth.
- The sacrifices and valor of our forefathers and foremothers, as well as their allies, are made all the more noble, heroic, and striking as a result.
- I think this is a common misconception among students.
- As described by Wilbur H.
Running slaves, frequently in groups of up to several families, were said to have been directed at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ secret name for the North Star.
The Railroad in Lore
Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.
When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.
scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.
A Meme Is Born
Following is a brief list of the most popular misconceptions regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following: There were several reasons for this. 1. It was run by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. In addition, there were Underground Railroad stations all across the Southern states. fugitive slaves who made their way north sought refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through underground passageways.
- In addition, the Underground Railroad was a large-scale operation that enabled hundreds of thousands of individuals to flee from their slavery.
- Seventh, the spiritual “Steal Away” was chanted to warn slaves that Harriet Tubman was on her way to town or that an ideal opportunity to run had arrived.
- First, a brief overview of the Underground Railroad’s historical development.
Myth Battles Counter-Myth
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.
Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.
Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.
In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”
Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism
That’s a little amount of history; what about those urban legends? The answers are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement itself were possibly the first examples in American history of a truly multiracial alliance, and the role played by the Quakers in its success cannot be overstated. Despite this, it was primarily controlled by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, with the most notable exception being the famous Philadelphian William Still, who served as its president.
- The Underground Railroad was made possible by the efforts of white and black activists such as Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett, Calvin Fairbank, Charles Torrey, Harriet Tubman and Still, all of whom were true heroes.
- Because of the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the railroad’s growth did not take place until after that year.
- After all, it was against the law to help slaves in their attempts to emancipate themselves.
- Being an abolitionist or a conductor on the Underground Railroad, according to the historian Donald Yacovone, “was about as popular and hazardous as being a member of the Communist Party in 1955,” he said in an email to me.
- The Underground Railroad was predominantly a phenomena of the Northern United States.
- For the most part, fugitive slaves were left on their own until they were able to cross the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon Line and thereby reach a Free State.
- For fugitives in the North, well-established routes and conductors existed, as did some informal networks that could transport fugitives from places such as the abolitionists’ office or houses in Philadelphia to other locations north and west.
(where slavery remained legal until 1862), as well as in a few locations throughout the Upper South, some organized support was available.
I’m afraid there aren’t many.
Furthermore, few dwellings in the North were equipped with secret corridors or hidden rooms where slaves might be hidden.
What about freedom quilts?
The only time a slave family had the resources to sew a quilt was to shelter themselves from the cold, not to relay information about alleged passages on the Underground Railroad that they had never visited.
As we will discover in a future column, the danger of treachery about individual escapes and collective rebellions was much too large for escape plans to be publicly shared.5.
No one has a definitive answer.
According to Elizabeth Pierce, an administrator at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the figure might be as high as 100,000, but that appears to be an overstatement.
We may put these numbers into context by noting that there were 3.9 million slaves and only 488,070 free Negroes in 1860 (with more than half of them still living in the South), whereas there were 434,495 free Negroes in 1850 (with more than half still living in the South).
The fact that only 101 fleeing slaves ever produced book-length “slave narratives” describing their servitude until the conclusion of the Civil War is also significant to keep in mind while thinking about this topic.
However, just a few of them made it to safety.
How did the fugitive get away?
John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, as summarized by Blight, “80 percent of these fugitives were young guys in their teens and twenties who absconded alone on the majority of occasions.
Because of their household and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less likely to flee than older slave women.
Lyford in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had been a long and difficult journey.” 7.
What is “Steal Away”?
They used them to communicate secretly with one another in double-voiced discussions that neither the master nor the overseer could comprehend.
However, for reasons of safety, privacy, security, and protection, the vast majority of slaves who escaped did so alone and covertly, rather than risking their own safety by notifying a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, for fear of betraying their masters’ trust.
Just consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been thus planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you think?
According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the vast majority of whom were black.
Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrible and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the total numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, were “not huge.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were not nearly as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.
Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be published on the website African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. On The Root, you may find all 100 facts.
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
However, many of the intriguing and lesser known elements of the Underground Railroad are not included in many textbooks, despite the fact that it is an essential part of our nation’s history. It is intended that this booklet will serve as a window into the past by presenting a number of original documents pertaining to the Underground Railroad. Broadsides, prize posters, newspaper clippings, historical records, sheet music, pictures, and memoirs connected to the Underground Railroad are among the primary sources included in this collection.
- The Underground Railroad was a covert structure established to assist fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in the United States.
- As a result, secret codes were developed to aid in the protection of themselves and their purpose.
- Runaway slaves were referred to as cargo, and the free persons who assisted them on their journey to freedom were referred to as conductors.
- These stations would be identified by a lantern that was lighted and hung outside.
A Dangerous Path to Freedom
Traveling through the Underground Railroad to seek their freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, in a short amount of time in order to escape. They accomplished this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were rushing after them in the night. Slave owners were not the only ones who sought for and apprehended fleeing slaves. For the purpose of encouraging people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters offering monetary compensation for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
- They would have to fend off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them while trekking for lengthy periods of time in the wilderness, as well as cross dangerous terrain and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the arrest of fugitive slaves since they were regarded as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the law at the time.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the southern states, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’ American Memory and America’s Library collections.
He did not escape via the Underground Railroad, but rather on a regular railroad.
Since he was a fugitive slave who did not have any “free papers,” he had to borrow a seaman’s protection certificate, which indicated that a seaman was a citizen of the United States, in order to prove that he was free.
Unfortunately, not all fugitive slaves were successful in their quest for freedom.
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson, and John Parker were just a few of the people who managed to escape slavery using the Underground Railroad system.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet in diameter. When he was finally let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
Train conductors on the Underground Railroad were free persons who provided assistance to escaped slaves moving via the Underground Railroad system. Runaway slaves were assisted by conductors, who provided them with safe transportation to and from train stations. They were able to accomplish this under the cover of darkness, with slave hunters on their tails. Many of these stations would be in the comfort of their own homes or places of work, which was convenient. They were in severe danger as a result of their actions in hiding fleeing slaves; nonetheless, they continued because they believed in a cause bigger than themselves, which was the liberation thousands of oppressed human beings.
- They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
- Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
- With the following words from one of his songs, abolitionist poet John Whittier paid respect to Walker’s valiant actions: “Take a step forward with your muscular right hand, brave ploughman of the sea!
- She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
- He went on to write a novel.
- John Parker is yet another former slave who escaped and returned to slave states in order to aid in the emancipation of others.
Rankin’s neighbor and fellow conductor, Reverend John Rankin, was a collaborator in the Underground Railroad project.
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were unquestionably anti-slavery, and they were not alone in their views.
Individuals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur and Lewis Tappan founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which marked the beginning of the abolitionist movement.
The group published an annual almanac that featured poetry, paintings, essays, and other abolitionist material.
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who rose to prominence as an abolitionist after escaping from slavery.
His other abolitionist publications included the Frederick Douglass Paper, which he produced in addition to delivering public addresses on themes that were important to abolitionists.
Anthony was another well-known abolitionist who advocated for the abolition of slavery via her speeches and writings.
For the most part, she based her novel on the adventures of escaped slave Josiah Henson.
Efforts of Abolitionists Telling Their Story:Fugitive Slave Narratives
Henry Bibb was born into slavery in Kentucky in the year 1815, and he was the son of a slave owner. After several failed efforts to emancipate himself from slavery, he maintained the strength and persistence to continue his struggle for freedom despite being captured and imprisoned numerous times. His determination paid off when he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then on to Canada with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, which had been highly anticipated. The following is an excerpt from his tale, in which he detailed one of his numerous escapes and the difficulties he faced as a result of his efforts.
- I began making preparations for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the shackles that tied me as a slave as soon as the clock struck twelve.
- On the twenty-fifth of December, 1837, the long-awaited day had finally arrived when I would put into effect my previous determination, which was to flee for Liberty or accept death as a slave, as I had previously stated.
- It took every ounce of moral strength I have to keep my emotions under control as I said goodbye to my small family.
- Despite the fact that every incentive was extended to me in order to flee if I want to be free, and the call of liberty was booming in my own spirit, ‘Be free, oh, man!
- I was up against a slew of hurdles that had gathered around my mind, attempting to bind my wounded soul, which was still imprisoned in the dark prison of mental degeneration.
- Furthermore, the danger of being killed or arrested and deported to the far South, where I would be forced to spend the rest of my days in hopeless bondage on a cotton or sugar plantation, all conspired to discourage me.
- The moment has come for me to follow through on my commitment.
- This marked the beginning of the construction of what was known as the underground rail route to Canada.
For nearly forty-eight hours, I pushed myself to complete my journey without food or rest, battling against external difficulties that no one who has never experienced them can comprehend: “not knowing when I might be captured while traveling among strangers, through cold and fear, braving the north winds while wearing only a thin layer of clothing, pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not a single house in which I could enter to protect me from the storm.” This is merely one of several accounts penned by runaway slaves who were on the run from their masters.
Sojourner Truth was another former slave who became well-known for her work to bring slavery to an end.
Green and many others, including Josiah Henson, authored autobiographies in which they described their own personal experiences.
Perhaps a large number of escaped slaves opted to write down their experiences in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or perhaps they did so in order to help folks learn from the mistakes of the past in order to create a better future for themselves.