What was the Underground Railroad and how did it work?
- During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally. It was not an actual railroad, but it served the same purpose—it transported people long distances.
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.
Will there be a season 2 of the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad Season 2 won’t come in 2021 Whether the series is renewed or not, we’ve got some bad news when it comes to the release date. The Underground Railroad Season 2 won’t come in 2021.
Is the Underground Railroad book true?
Adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-award-winning novel, The Underground Railroad is based on harrowing true events. The ten-parter tells the story of escaped slave, Cora, who grew up on The Randall plantation in Georgia.
What was the punishment for the Underground Railroad?
A severe beating was the most common form of discipline, usually administered with a bull whip or a wooden paddle. The offender would be hung by the hands or staked to the ground and every slave on the plantation would be forced to watch the whipping to deter them from running away.
What states was the Underground Railroad in?
Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them.
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.
What happens to Cora at the end of the Underground Railroad?
Inside of the tunnel, Cora faces an injured Ridgeway, overwhelmed by the weight of her past and her mother’s legacy. There, she shoots him three times, severing their cursed tie forever before heading back to Valentine Farm to see if anyone survived the massacre.
Who is Cora’s mother in the Underground Railroad?
Mabel Cora’s mother, who, when Cora was 10 or 11 years old, ran away, leaving her daughter behind. Mabel was never caught, making everyone think that perhaps she had successfully reached the North. In reality, however, she had a change of heart mere hours after leaving the plantation and tried to go back.
How many chapters are in the Underground Railroad series?
Based on the 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead, “The Underground Railroad” is a story divided into ten chapters, but not in a traditional episodic manner.
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.
Who is the leader of the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), a renowned leader in the Underground Railroad movement, established the Home for the Aged in 1908. Born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman gained her freedom in 1849 when she escaped to Philadelphia.
Was there an underground railroad during slavery?
During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally.
What did slaves do after they escaped?
Most large plantations in the South, however, had slaves who escaped. Slaves’ resistance to captivity took many forms, such as performing careless work, destroying property, or faking illness. Many enslaved persons who were able chose escape, however. Some tried to rejoin family members living on a nearby properties.
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 punishment did slaves receive?
Slaves were punished by whipping, shackling, beating, mutilation, branding, and/or imprisonment. Punishment was most often meted out in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but masters or overseers sometimes abused slaves to assert dominance.
The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico
The Underground Railroad went both north and south along the length of the city. In the eyes of enslaved people in Texas, Canada must have appeared like an impossibly distant dream. Slavery was, fortunately, prohibited in Mexico as well. According to Maria Hammack, who is doing her dissertation on this issue at the University of Texas at Austin, researchers estimate that 5,000 to 10,000 persons escaped from bondage and entered Mexico during this period. However, she believes that the true figure might be far higher.
As a result, most individuals didn’t leave many documents.
Hammack has also identified a Black lady and two white males who assisted enslaved people in escaping and attempting to locate them a new home in Mexico, according to the report.
- Slavery was reinstated once the Republic of Texas was established in 1836, and it remained lawful after Texas became a state of the United States in 1845.
- Hammack has tracked down a fugitive called Tom who had been enslaved by Sam Houston and freed him.
- Once Tom crossed the border, he enlisted with the Mexican military, whom Houston had fought against previously.
- A few chose to walk, while others chose to ride horses or slipped aboard ships destined for Mexican port cities.
- Even if this wasn’t technically conceivable, the vision of floating to freedom on a ship that represented enslavement was powerful and compelling.
- “I’ve discovered folks who have traveled from as far away as North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama,” Hammack adds.
- In the same way that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 obliged free states to return escapees to the southern United States, the United States desired that Mexico return fugitive enslaved persons to the United States.
Despite this, some owners of enslaved individuals in the United States continued to pay slave catchers to unlawfully grab fugitives in Mexico.
According to Hammack, some enslaved persons may have been able to make their way to Mexico on their own.
The Runaway Slave Act enhanced federal and free-state responsibilities for the recapture of fugitive slaves by establishing federal commissioners who were empowered to issue arrest warrants for those slaves fleeing to other countries.
Matilda Hicks, the husband’s wife, was a formerly enslaved lady.
Additionally, some northern abolitionists came south to assist enslaved persons in their attempts to reach Mexico.
Quakerabolitionist Benjamin Lundy “was aggressively appealing the Mexican authorities to allow for colonies to be founded for, I guess what we would term refugees” in the early 1830s, according to a contemporary account.
A few years later, in 1852, Seminole organizations, which included fugitive enslaved people, were successful in their plea to the Mexican authorities for more territory.
“It is still in the possession of their ancestors, who continue to reside there to this day in Mexico,” Hammack explains. Those who fled slavery through the “underground railroad” in the southern United States, as well as other refugees, profited from Mexico’s readiness to provide a safe haven.
The Underground Railroad in Indiana
Mary Schons contributed to this article. The 20th of June, 2019 is a Thursday. For 30 years before to the American Civil War, enslaved African Americans utilized the Underground Railroad to gain their freedom, a network known as the Underground Railroad (1861-1865). The “railroad” employed a variety of routes to transport people from slave-supporting states in the South to “free” states in the North and Canada. Sometimes abolitionists, or persons who were opposed to slavery, were responsible for organizing routes for the Underground Railroad.
- There was a great deal of activity on the Underground Railroad in the states that bordered the Ohio River, which served as a boundary between slave and free states.
- Not everyone in Indiana supported the emancipation of enslaved people.
- Because Indiana was a part of the Underground Railroad, its narrative is the tale of all states that had a role in it.
- However, while some people did have secret chambers in their homes or carriages, the great bulk of the Underground Railroad consisted of individuals surreptitiously assisting slaves who were attempting to flee slavery in whatever manner they were able to.
- The persons that were enslaved were referred to as “passengers.” “Stations” were private residences or commercial establishments where passengers and conductors seeking freedom might take refuge.
- If a new owner supported slavery, or if the residence was revealed to be a station on the Underground Railroad, passengers and conductors were obliged to locate a new station or move on somewhere.
- Only a small number of people kept records of this hidden activity in order to protect homeowners and others seeking freedom who required assistance.
People who were found assisting those who had fled slavery faced arrest and imprisonment.
No one knows exactly how the Underground Railroad received its name, nor does anybody care.
Another version of the story assigns the name to a freedom-seeker who was apprehended in Washington, D.C., in the year 1839.
A third narrative connects the name to an enslaved man called Tice Davids, who made the decision to pursue his freedom in 1831, according to the legend.
Unfortunately, there was no boat available to take us over the river.
His enslaver returned to Kentucky without him, claiming that Davids had vanished while traveling on a “underground railroad.” To put it another way, the name “Underground Railroad” had been widely accepted by the mid-1840s.
According to Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance, slavery was prohibited north of the Ohio River; however, the rule did not apply to enslaved persons who were already residing in the region.
Slavery was a common feature of life in the Northwest Territories at the time.
Indiana was established as a territory in 1800, with future United States PresidentWilliam Henry Harrison serving as the area’s first territorial governor.
Harrison and his followers also believed that permitting slavery in Indiana would increase the state’s population.
Their petition was refused by Congress.
The “contract holder” has the authority to determine how long the victim must be held in slavery.
When Indiana became a state in 1816, its stateConstitutioncontained wording that was comparable to Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance—new enslaved persons were not permitted, but existing enslaved people were allowed to continue in their current state of enslavement.
The term “slave” was still used to describe some Hoosiers as late as the 1820 census.
(White people were exempt from this requirement.) Indiana’s 1851 Constitution prohibited blacks from voting, serving in the military, or testifying in any trial in which a white person was accused of a crime.
All three pathways eventually went to Michigan and subsequently to Canada, although they took different routes.
Lewis Harding said in a 1915 history of Decatur County, Indiana, that the county was a spot where three roads came together after crossing the Ohio River at separate points in the county.
assisted the escaped slaves in every way imaginable,” he adds, using the injunction as an example.
As Harding says, “the sympathies of the majority of the residents of this nation were with the escaped slave and his rescuer.” Historians now feel that the path to independence resembled a spider’s web rather than three independent pathways to freedom.
While traveling, they had to avoid organized networks of patrolmen who grabbed freedom-seekers and held them hostage for ransom money.
Known as the “President of the Underground Railroad,” Coffin is credited for bringing slavery to Indiana in 1826.
In his memoir, Reminiscences, Coffin tells the story of two girls who escaped Tennessee and sought refuge with their grandparents in the Indiana county of Randolph.
They were not, however, destined to live in safety.
When the alarm went off, it attracted the majority of the settlement’s black people together in a single location.
Unknown to them, an uncle of the two girls rode up on his horse at the same time the enslaver was being held at bay by the grandmother’scorn knife.
They were not given any authorization to enter the premises or search for items, according to him.” The uncle remained at the doorway for as long as he could to continue the dispute with the enslaver.
According to the account, the girls were disguised as guys and sneaked past the crowd to where two horses were waiting for them.
The girls were able to make it to Coffin’s residence without incident.
Eliza Harris’s Indefatigable Escape Indiana is the scene of one of the most famous slave escapes in history, which took place in the state of Indiana.
Harris made the snap decision to flee to Canada with her infant son in tow.
There were no bridges, and there was no way for a raft to get through the thick ice.
Moving from one ice floe to another while carrying her child, she eventually made it to the other end.
Eliza, in fact, is the name of the character who travels across the frigid Ohio.
In order to recover from their ordeal, Harris and her child traveled to Levi Coffin’s Fountain City residence.
In 1854, Levi and Catherine Coffin were on a visit to Canada with their daughter when a woman approached Catherine and introduced herself.
God’s blessings on you!” It was Eliza Harris, who had safely migrated to Chatham, Ontario, Canada, when the call came through.
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Examine the list of locations to determine if any are in your immediate vicinity.
But it was carried out according to a completely other set of rules.
Levi Coffin’s Reminiscences, published in 1880abet Help is a verb that refers to assisting in the committing of a crime.
abolitionist A person who is opposed to slavery as a noun.
authority Making choices is the responsibility of a nounperson or organization.
The payment of a fine or the performance of a contract under the terms of an agreement constitutes a bond, which is an unenforceable agreement.
cattle Andoxen are nouncows.
The American Civil War The American Civil War was fought between the Union (north) and the Confederacy between 1860 and 1865.
conductor A person who escorted slaves to safety and freedom on the Underground Railroad was known as a guide.
The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two chambers of the United States Congress.
convictVerb to find someone guilty of committing a criminal offense.
Municipality is a type of political entity that is smaller than a state or province, but often larger than a city, town, or other municipality.
defendantNounperson or entity who has been accused of committing a crime or engaging in other misconduct.
economy The production, distribution, and consumption of commodities and services are all referred to as a system.
enslave acquainted with the verbto completely control Adjectivewell-known.
forbidVerb to ban or prohibit something.
fugitive a noun or an adjective that has gotten away from the law or another limitation a system or order established by a country, a state, or any other political body; government Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American writer and abolitionist activist who lived from 1811 to 1896.
Nouna huge, flat sheet of ice that is floating on the surface of a body of water.
labor is a noun that refers to work or employment.
Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the term negronoun was frequently used to refer to persons of African descent.
During the American Civil War, the North was comprised of states that backed the United States (Union).
A portion of the modern-day states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota belonged to the Northwest Territory at the time of its creation.
The Ohio River is the greatest tributary of the Mississippi River, with a length of 1,580 kilometers (981 miles).
passenger A fugitive slave seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad is referred to as a noun.
Requests are made verbally, and are frequently accompanied by a document signed by the respondents.
prominentAdjectivethat is significant or stands out.
recover from an accident or strenuous activityVerb to recover from an injury or rigorous activity repeal a verb that means to reverse or reject anything that was previously guaranteed rouse a verb that means to awaken or make active.
Slavery is a noun that refers to the act of owning another human being or being owned by another human being (also known as servitude).
South During the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America (Confederacy) was backed or sympathized with by a huge number of states.
Supreme CourtNounin the United States, the highest judicial authority on questions of national or constitutional significance.
terminology A noungroup of words that are employed in a particular topic area.
Nounland that is protected against invaders by an animal, a person, or the government.
the southern hemisphere Geographic and political territory in the south-eastern and south-central sections of the United States that includes all of the states that sided with the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
unconstitutional Adjective that refers to a violation of the laws of the United States Constitution.
9th President of the United States of America, William Henry HarrisonNoun (1773-1841). (1841). word-of-mouth Informal communication, sometimes known as rumor or rumor mill. NounA official order issued by a government or other authoritative body.
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Mary Schons is a writer who lives in New York City.
Kara West, Emdash Editing, Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing
Kara West, Emdash Editing, Jeannie Evers, and Emdash Publishing
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Out of Chaos Comes Growth
A presidential election that is hotly fought. The Democratic candidate has won the popular vote, but the electoral vote in key states is being questioned, with both sides claiming victory and accusations of fraud hurled against the candidate. As a result of the election’s outcome, legal and political steps are being taken, and the question of who will be the next President of the United States is up in the air. Does this sound familiar? In 1876, a presidential election was held. Republican Rutherford Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden were running for the position of president.
Everything Old is New Again
The debate over that election continued on until a day or two before the intended presidential inauguration (inaugurations were held on March 4th in those days), when the two sides reached an agreement that would become known to history as the Compromise of 1877. It was during Reconstruction that the Compromise was reached, when the federal government in Washington primarily maintained control over the vanquished southerners of the old Confederacy, and even stationed federal troops in the South to ensure that African-Americans received fair treatment.
- However, by the time of the 1876 presidential election, Reconstruction had lost a significant amount of support, both in the political and legal senses.
- The Supreme Court had previously found in cases such as the Slaughter-Housecases, United States vs.
- Reese that southern states had a great lot of leeway in how they treated African-Americans at the time of the ruling.
- As a result, the period of Reconstruction came to an end.
In the end, they brought about the Jim Crow era of segregation and tyranny, which lasted until it was abolished by Supreme Court judgments and massive federal legislation in the 1950s and 1960s.’ African-Americans were nevertheless subjected to major kinds of legal, economic, and social discrimination far into the 1960s, despite the fact that they were not treated as brutally as they were in the Southern states.
Clearly, the struggle for African-Americans to gain equality in American society did not come to an end with the civil rights era of the mid-to-late twentieth century.
A persistent problem exists in the mistreatment of African-Americans by members of the law enforcement community, and African-American communities confront several obstacles in their efforts to become full and equal participants in American society.
Fast forward to the year 2020.
While we are living through another fiercely contested presidential election, the results in numerous states have been called into question once again, as of the time that I am writing this essay. In addition, the year 2020 has become something of a flashpoint in the history of race relations in the United States of America. However, in contrast to the events of 1876, which resulted in a lengthy time of suffering for the African-American community, the image shown in 2020 looks to provide a great deal of optimism.
- People came out in great numbers to express their opposition to this type of prejudice.
- The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired people all around the world to take to the streets, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time, in order to make their voices heard.
- Professional sports leagues have taken significant measures to promote their support for African-American civil rights and to demonstrate their opposition to racism in society.
- The National Football League (NFL) ran advertisements to urge people to go to the polls on election day.
- Given the significant role that sports play in American society, as well as the visibility of so many players, these moves have elevated the battle for racial justice to the forefront of the national conversation.
- This year, maybe more than any other, African-Americans had a significant part in the election of the next president of the United States.
- The next week, Biden won a string of victories in the Democratic primary on Super Tuesday, and his campaign for the Democratic nomination was relatively trouble-free from that point on.
As Vice President Joe Biden noted in his victory address, members of the African-American community stood by his side during this election year, and he committed to continue to be by their side.
The Change is Becoming Visible
Vice President Joe Biden made a point of selecting a Black lady to serve as his running partner for the vice presidency. Kamala Harris will be the new Vice President of the United States. Thus, she will be well-positioned to potentially succeed Biden and run for the Democratic nomination for president if Biden decides to step down from his post. Moreover, while Congressman Hakeem Jeffries has played down speculation that he will be appointed as the next Speaker of the House (“Some Democrats are floating Hakeem Jeffries for House Speaker: report,” Keydra Manns, first reported in the New York Times on November 4, 2020), reports suggest that Jeffries is “a top contender to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
- African-Americans have a significant role in politics throughout the political spectrum, and not just among Democrats.
- (“Trump made advances with African-American voters in a number of states.
- The final conclusion is that the presence of African-Americans in prominent positions in government and in American politics is becoming a more frequent feature of the political landscape.
- Compared to the election in 1876, the context in which the disputed election of 2020 took place is completely different in this election.
- And, to be sure, the fight for racial equality is far from being over.
- On the other hand, if we look at things from a historical perspective, people may look back on 2020 and say that this year was a watershed moment in the movement toward racial equality in a big way.
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.
Stations were the names given to the safe homes that were utilized as hiding places along the routes of the Underground Railroad. 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.
Underground Railroad in Ohio
The monument shown above, which was erected by Cameron Armstrong on the campus of OberlinCollege and represents the beginnings of the Underground Railroad in Ohio, may be seen above. A critical crossroads on the Underground Railroad, Oberlin connected five separate paths that fleeing slaves may have traveled in order to escape. During the Civil War, no fugitive who lived in Oberlin was ever returned to bondage, and the town has been dubbed “The Town that Started the Civil War.” When Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, one of the stipulations prohibited slavery in any future state admitted to the Union that was located north of the Ohio River.
- Later, Congress amended the legislation to include a provision making it a federal criminal to help or hide fugitive slaves, which might result in harsh penalties or even imprisonment if the act was committed.
- Even in a free state like Ohio, living was made incredibly difficult as a result of this.
- This would be especially true in the lower half of the state, where inhabitants were more likely to have been previous residents of Virginia or Kentucky, or to have descended from ancestors who had lived in these states at some point in their lives.
- While speaking at local gatherings, anti-slavery activists may frequently transform them into a confrontational confrontation.
- In reality, most of the people on the network were only familiar with a few of the other users, which helped to keep everyone’s identities safe.
- Ohio, with around 3000 miles of pathways used by fleeing runaways, had the most active network of any other state, despite the fact that there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, including the Southern states.
- First and foremost, Ohio shared a border with two slave states: Virginia and Kentucky.
- Among all the states participating in these subterranean networks, Ohio was the one that was closest to Canada, with a distance of just roughly 250 miles or less between any point along the Ohio River and Lake Erie, where freedom might be found.
While the Pennsylvania Quakers were largely responsible for the inception of the abolitionist movement, the Ohio Quakers appeared to have been more directly involved in transporting escaping slaves on their way north and toward freedom, particularly those fleeing slaves from the Virginia plantations.
Prior to it, there was a scarcity of knowledge regarding railways in general.
There was no railroad, and there was no underground railroad with the Underground Railroad, of course.
The term railroad was utilized because the persons participating in the activities used phrases that were frequently associated with railways to describe different parts of their operations, leading to the name railroad being used.
- Slaves were referred to as “cargo” or “passengers.” Stations were used to refer to hiding locations or safe homes. Conductors were the guides who escorted the runaway slaves to freedom. Those who assisted slaves in their escape but did not guide them were referred to as agents. People who contributed financial resources to these endeavors were referred to as shareholders.
The use of the same terminology associated with railroads to describe the activities associated with the Underground Railroad became more widespread as physical railroads became more common. This allowed those actively involved in the Underground Railroad to communicate openly without fear of being turned over to the authorities by someone overhearing their conversation. At the time, these code phrases were not known outside of the network, which is understandable given their importance. The title “liberation train” or “the gospel train” was used in certain parts of the country, and in others it was referred to as “the freedom train.” By the 1850s, the name “Underground Railroad” had become the most often used in the state of Ohio.
A fugitive slave could not be assisted under state or federal law, and this was a criminal offense.
It was the plantation owner’s responsibility to apply further punishment to captured slaves when they were returned to the plantation and fields from where they had escaped.
Ohio Anti-Slavery Society
An organization known as the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was founded by a group of people who shared a strong opposition to slavery. The Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was created in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1835, and was modeled after the framework of the American Anti-Slavery Society, which was founded in 1833 in New York City. When the society was founded, its members committed to work for the abolition of slavery and the adoption of legislation to safeguard African-Americans when they were released from the bonds of slavery.
People who opposed the abolitionists’ ideals were motivated mostly by fear, which was frequently shown in mob attacks on the abolitionists’ homes and workplaces.
When the conference was held in a barn outside of Granville, a mob erupted and attacked the abolitionists who had gathered in the barn.
In addition to bigotry, and because they were unable to accept that racism, they argued that runaway slaves from the southern states would take their employment here in Ohio.
Freedom Center in Cincinnati
The fact that the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located in Cincinnati is a blessing for the state of Ohio. This center serves as a clearinghouse for information regarding the Underground Railroad and organizes educational programs to raise awareness of issues impacting African-Americans, among other things. The Center first opened its doors in 2004. There are three buildings that make up the Freedom Center, and they represent the three foundations of freedom: courage, cooperation, and perseverance.
The Freedom Center is located at 50 East Freedom Way in Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 and can be reached at (513) 330-7500. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Ohio was divided on the question of slavery, and only a few localities could provide complete protection. Oberlin was one of the locations where fugitive slaves may feel safe while trying to flee. Oberlin, which is located in north central Ohio, became one of the primary staging areas for fugitive slaves fleeing to Canada. More villages in the south, including Columbus and Zanesville to the east,Mechanicsburg and Urbana to the west, came together to help, as did a number of other cities. For runaway slaves, there were even more little settlements in southern Ohio, which provided them with sanctuary in an incredibly perilous region.
The major entry point into Ohio was along the Ohio River, with the most notable location being a little town known as Ripley.
In search of a safe refuge where they could live with their families without the fear of being shackled in captivity, escaping slaves came across the United States of America. The only certain location was Canada (and, to a lesser extent, Mexico), although getting to these locations was far from straightforward. As soon as an escaped slave arrived on the borders of Canada, they discovered that living there was incredibly harsh, with little job and strict segregation. After escaping slaves made it to Canada, they would frequently return to Ohio, where they might join tiny enclaves of freed slaves that had already been established in remote places, where they could try to stay as inconspicuous as they possibly could.
ABOVE: The narrative of a slave was recounted at the New Boston Fair.
African-Americans helped make the Underground Railroad work
The fact that escaping slaves made the Underground Railroad feasible was the most significant component of the Underground Railroad’s history. If it hadn’t been for their daring, tenacity, and innovation, the railroad would have been nothing more than a footnote in the history of our nation’s development. It was necessary for the majority of runaway slaves not only to get away from their owner’s estate, but also from all of the areas between them and the Ohio River, as well as from all of the other entrance points between the slave and free states.
- Aside from avoiding their previous masters, they also had to dodge the slave-catchers who prowled the countryside in pursuit of fugitives.
- The runaway slaves had a tough voyage since they had to hide in the woods during the day and travel only at night.
- As soon as they passed over the Ohio River, they had to make contact with someone they had never met before, and they had to hope that they would be able to give them with refuge and assistance on their long voyage ahead of them.
- That occurred at a period when the Ohio River frequently froze over, making it possible for the runaways to cross the river without the need of a boat.
- The ice was frequently more like giant pieces of floating ice, which needed cautious footwork to make it safely across the river at night, just by looking at the river itself and not taking into consideration the extremely low temperatures.
Slaves who had already completed the trek to freedom would frequently return to assist others, putting their own safety and freedom at tremendous risk.
Paying the Price:
A fugitive slave from a Kentucky farm owned by John Bacon who was 17 years old at the time of his capture on September 13, 1858, by two slave hunters and two federal marshals in Oberlin, Ohio, was residing in Oberlin at the time of his arrest. Realizing that attempting to apprehend the young black man in the town of Oberlin would be difficult due to the well-known anti-slavery attitudes held by the town’s residents, they devised a plan to lure John Price away from the protection of Oberlin. On the pretext of digging potatoes for money, they persuaded Shakespeare Boynton, the son of a prominent Oberlin landowner, to accompany John Price to a farm west of Oberlin where he would be paid for his efforts.
The ruse was successful.
Anti-slavery activists in Oberlin were angry as soon as they saw what had happened and rallied together to try to save the slaves.
By late afternoon, more than 200 people from Oberlin and Wellington had gathered outside the Wadsworth Hotel, where Price was being kept captive.
There was a window with a little balcony that overlooked the town square in that room.
The sheriff wanted to make sure that all of the paperwork was in order.
Then, from the outside, someone set up a ladder near the room’s window, and a group of Oberlin locals climbed in via the window while another group entered through the door.
Price went on the Underground Railroad to Canada a few days later, but was never seen or heard from again after that.
In lieu of posting bond, they were sent to the Cuyahoga County Jail for almost one month, where they remain today.
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case had a significant impact on the public’s opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, which was one of the reasons that contributed to the American Civil War.
Smith, Richard Winsor, Simeon Bushnell, David Watson, William E.
Scott, Ansel W.
Peck, and James M.
Smith. Ralph Plumb, James Bartlett, John Watson, and Henry Evans are seated at the table. A technicality in their indictments caused two of the men, Jacob B. Shipherd and Orindatus S.B. Wall, to be released sooner than the others. As a result, they are not featured.