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.
Why was the Underground Railroad so successful?
The success of the Underground Railroad rested on the cooperation of former runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who helped guide runaway slaves along the routes and provided their homes as safe havens.
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.
Is the Underground Railroad a true story?
Is it based on a true story? No, not exactly, but it is based on real events. The Underground Railroad is adapted from the novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead, that is described as alternative history.
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.
Why was the Underground Railroad illegal?
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination. The Act made it illegal for a person to help a run away, and citizens were obliged under the law to help slave catchers arrest fugitive slaves.
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.
How many runaway slaves were there?
Approximately 100,000 American slaves escaped to freedom.
Were quilts used in the Underground Railroad?
Two historians say African American slaves may have used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad. Quilts with patterns named “wagon wheel,” “tumbling blocks,” and “bear’s paw” appear to have contained secret messages that helped direct slaves to freedom, the pair claim.
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.
What happened to Lovey in the Underground Railroad?
She secretly decides to join Cora and Caesar’s escape mission but she is captured early in the journey by hog hunters who return her to Randall, where she is killed by being impaled by a metal spike, her body left on display to discourage others who think of trying to escape.
What happened to Polly in Underground Railroad?
Jenkins’ show gives Mabel’s friend Polly a bigger role in Mabel’s flight. In the book, Polly dies by suicide after her baby is stillborn.
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.
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.
First, a brief overview of the Underground Railroad’s history:
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.
Northern Opposition to the Underground Railroad
Enslaved people in the United States were able to escape to free states and Canada in the nineteenth century because of the assistance of abolitionists and other allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses that enabled them to escape to freedom in the United States and Canada. There were other older (pre-Revolutionary War) ways for escaping slaves, but the network that is now commonly recognized as the Underground Railroad was established in the early nineteenth century and reached its zenith between 1850 and 1860, when it was at its peak.
Following Union victory in the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, thereby ending slavery in the United States.
According to this article, which was originally published in the National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1858, there were many who were opposed to the work done by these individuals.
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
“Several important residents of New York are about to be revealed as ” freight brokers ” on the Underground Railroad, according to the Syracuse Courier.” It’s possible that some of the ” conductors” have a residence in this city, and this information will spread. —Washington Union, Washington, D.C. When it comes to the Washington Union, this announcement should be filed under the heading ” Important if true.” The fact that the United States authorities in this area, or those civil magistrates of New York State who have taken the oath to support the Constitution of the State of New York, and to discharge the duties of their respective offices to the best of their abilities, have been able to ignore the flagrant violations of the Constitution and laws of the United States that are not only perpetrated, but also publicly applauded by promi, is beyond comprehension to us at this point.
- “The National Anti-Slavery Standard” was the official weekly newspaper of the American Anti-Slavery Society, an abolitionist organization founded in 1833 by William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan with the goal of spreading their movement across the country through printed materials.
- Frederick Douglass was a significant figure in the organization, and he frequently spoke at meetings held at the organization’s headquarters in New York City.
- At this time of year, it is not uncommon to see three or four horses being transported in this manner to the domains of Her Britannic Majesty’s Royal Highness.
- We are unsure if our government has the authority to intervene with the activities of this meddling and impertinent group; but, we believe that if we are the imbeciles and defenseless people that such an organization believes us to be, we should recognize this truth as soon as possible.
- As a result, we are delighted to read the news in theWashington Union that some of New York’s most distinguished individuals would be brought before the court in connection with their involvement with the Underground Railroad.
- It is past time for the City of Syracuse to stop prostituting itself to the orgies and “donation visits” of the Rev.
- Loguen and his associates, and for the swindling and treason of those operators, “conductors,” and local agents to be exposed, both for the benefit of their dupes and for the benefit of society as a whole.
The Library of Congress, the Flickr Commons, the Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives are all good places to start looking.
- An American Aristides on the History of Slavery (1827)
- An American Aristides on the History of Slavery (1827)
- In the Decades-Long Battle Against American Slavery, a Watershed Moment Has Arrived
- Excessive reliance on the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
- Exiles from Kentucky (1861)
- The Reign of Terror in the South (1861)
- Around a New Orleans Slave Dungeon in 1855, a free colored boy is depicted.
Civil disobedience, and resistance to the FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW are all aspects of the Underground Railroad’s story. Three decades before the Civil War, blacks and whites opposed to slavery were participating in a secret, clandestine operation to aid slaves fleeing the South and evading arrest in the North, which was carried out in secret. The Subterranean Railroad was so named because it was underground in the sense of secret, concealed, or clandestine. The word “underground railroad” refers to a literary allegory.
- There was NO actual tunnel beneath the ground, with tracks going through it and a train passing through it.
- It’s possible that runaways are hiding in wells.
- Agents were activists who supported the slaves in their efforts to free themselves.
- The act of concealing a fugitive slave was prohibited under federal law.
- Individuals who took part in the Underground Railroad were engaging in civil disobedience and breaking the rules of their own countries.
- Vincent Harding tells the story of an occurrence that occurred in Boston in 1836.
Suddenly, a large black lady wrapped her arms around the neck of the police officer, and a number of blacks rushed to the bench, and in a moment, they had the inmates loaded onto a waiting vehicle and driven down the courtroom steps to the waiting carriage.
During the month of November 1842, a fugitive slave from Virginia called George Latimer was apprehended in Boston.
They circulated a petition, which garnered more than 6,300 signatures, urging his release from prison.
However, occurrences such as this one exacerbated the already high levels of hostility between the North and the South.
We regret to inform you that not all rescue attempts were successful.
Hundreds of people demonstrated in opposition to his homecoming, and 300 constables were dispatched to transport him to the docks.
Numerous irate residents converged on the courthouse and attempted to storm the facility, according to reports.
Soldiers from the United States Army’s infantry divisions arrived to implement the country’s runaway slave legislation.
This incident widened the rift that already existed between the North and the South.
Following this, Southerners abandoned their efforts to apprehend fugitives in New England.
In Boston, in 1851, the slave hunters were on the trail of a runaway by the name of Shadrack.
Eight men – four white and four black – were prosecuted for assisting him in his escape after President Millard Fillmore decried the crime.
The Fugitive Slave laws were being flouted by the 1850s, and all-white Northern juries refused to condemn individuals who dared to break them.
One of the most famous rescues in history took place in the same year, 1851, when a fugitive called William “Jerry” Henry was saved from a Syracuse police station by a crowd of over a hundred people.
Slavecatchers were despised by Northern public opinion, and the failure of Northern white juries to condemn the lawbreakers widened the rift between the white North and the white South even further.
Local authorities, on the other hand, apprehended and indicted them.
The debate over slavery was tearing the United States of America apart from the inside out.
Two United States marshals were among the abductors.
After everything was said and done, Charles Langston was given the bare minimum of 20 days in jail and a $100 fine (a “slap on the wrist”).
Approximately 1821, she was born as a slave in the state of Maryland.
She escaped to the north of the country.
Between 1850 and 1860, Harriet Tubman returned to Maryland more than 19 times, rescuing more than 300 slaves, including her parents and three of her siblings and sisters.
Slave lords offered a $40,000 prize for her capture in exchange for her capture.
Slaves were hidden by these abolitionists in their homes, attics, barns, crawl spaces, and wells.
Near Ripley, Ohio, a white abolitionist named John Rankin assisted almost 1,000 blacks who were enslaved.
Ripley was the site where John Parker, a liberated Afro-American former slave who had won his freedom, covertly rowed a boat across the Ohio River, transporting hundreds of fugitive slaves from the slave state of Kentucky to the free state of Ohio.
The QuakerLevi Coffin provided assistance to about 3,000 runaways in Ohio.
He aided around 1200 fugitive slaves.
Nancy and her three children were sold into slavery in 1848 by a slavemaster.
Following that, he managed to free himself from slavery.
Smith was a shoemaker in his previous life.
Adams Express transported the package to Philadelphia via train, where it was subsequently unpacked.
Henry Brown was subsequently dragged out of the carton, earning him the nickname “Henry “Box” Brown in the process of history.
The so-called Christiana Riot, which took place in Christiana, Pennsylvania, in September 1851, was the most spectacular of all the actions of opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law that took place (see Harding, pp.
Edward Gorsuch, a slaveholder from Baltimore, traveled to Pennsylvania in 1849 in order to locate four runaway slaves who had fled.
He was accompanied by his son, two relatives, and two neighbors.
The black abolitionists, on the other hand, had a vigilance committee in Philadelphia.
When Gorsuch arrived to pick up the warrants, the spy alerted the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, which then alerted the Christiana Vigilance Committee, which ultimately alerted the FBI.
William Parker served as the chairman of the Christiana vigilance committee.
A group of armed black men locked themselves in Parker’s house, where the runaways were reported to be sheltering.
With rifles, corn cutters, clubs, and stones, a group of twenty-five armed black men assembled outside of Parker’s residence.
Gorsuch was shot and subsequently died as a result of his injuries.
According to reports, after being shot, the black ladies chopped and mutilated the older Gorsuch’s hands and feet.
However, William Parker had fled and was being hosted by Frederick Douglass on his route to Canada, where he would find refuge.
William Still was the big black behemoth of the subterranean railroad in the Philadelphia-New Jersey region, and he was known as “William Still.” Lawnside, along with communities like as Swedesboro, Mt.
Holly, and Bordentown, served as a stop on the subterranean railroad system during the American Revolution.
The slaves, according to activists like as David Walker (1829) and William Highland Garnet (1843), would be quite justified in rising up and executing their owners if they did so.
He also declared that any man who crossed his doorstep in the hopes of apprehending a runaway slave would be killed by Delany, even if the man was the president of the United States with the entire cabinet by his side and the slaveholders’ Constitution waving above their heads.
The Raid on Harper’s Ferry, led by John Brown Armed insurrection against slavery was the highest manifestation of anti-slavery sentiment.
He felt that the time for conversation had passed.
John Brown made the decision to attack and take control of the government armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.
He would equip any slaves who would join him and launch a guerilla campaign against the authorities.
[As Harding explains on page 213 of his book,] The five African-Americans were as follows: Shields Green was hanged shortly after John Brown was executed.
Dangerfield Newby was slain at Harper’s Ferry, and John Copeland was hung.
The arsenal was located in a valley, surrounded by mountains, and had a large number of guns.
Brown did not bring any food with him.
Brown did not just flee with the guns in his possession.
By the second morning, ten of his followers, including two of his sons, had died or were in critical condition.
It was a system of institutionalized violence and degradation that existed on a daily basis.
Slavery was established and maintained via the use of the sword. In the end, it would be necessary to use force and violence in order to abolish slavery. Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword, as the saying goes. Slavery was a similar situation.
The Underground Railroad Story in Quilts
|Viola Burley Leak Washington, DC Middle Passage 1997 Cotton,cotton blends84″ x 72″CathleenRichardson Bailey Pittsburgh, PA.Shh! 2000-2001Cotton, synthetics, wool, beads, paint 33″ x 30″Myrah Brown GreenBrooklyn, NYDancin’ at the Tree of Life 2000 Cotton, batik, cowrie shells58″ x 45″Myrah Brown GreenBrooklyn, NY Wandering Spirit 1999-2000 Bali batiks, cottons, cotton blends, cowrie shells 78″ x 57″Women in the Hadley family Clinton County, OHand Wayne County, INAbolitionist Quilt c. 1842 Cotton72″x72″ Courtesy the Clinton County Historical SocietyFifth gradersAmherstburg Public School Amherstburg, OntarioAmherstburg Public School Children’s Map Freedom Quilt1998 Cotton, cotton blends 65″ x 58″Courtesy the North American Black Historical Museum and Cultural CenterOberlin Seniors Oberlin, OHOberlin Underground Railroad Quilt 1982 Cottons, cotton blends 103″ x 70″Courtesy Oberlin Seniors of Neighborhood House, Inc.||Threads of Freedom:The Underground Railroad Story in Quilts Oberlin, Ohio May 13 to August 26, 2001″Let Slavery Perish!””Born a Slave, Died Free.” These epitaphs are on the gravestones of twoformer fugitive slaves buried in the Oberlin Cemetery. Many of these peoplecame to Oberlin and traveled through it with the help of the UndergroundRailroad. This nationwide, informal network of fugitive slaves and theirsupporters was particularly strong in Ohio, which became known as its”trunk line.” In 1787 Congress abolished slavery in the Northwest Territory,a region that became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan,Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota. For slaves fleeing from Kentucky andwestern Virginia, this meant that for a distance of about 350 miles, thefirst step toward freedom was just across the Ohio River. Because theFugitive Slave Law of 1850 still permitted southern slaveholders to apprehendfugitives in northern states, however, once the fugitives were in Ohiothey continued north into Canada, which had no such provision. The distancefrom the slave states north to Canada was shortest through Ohio. Several nationallyknown individuals associated with antislavery activity and the UndergroundRailroad were active in Ohio. Levi Coffin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, JohnMercer Langston, and John Brown were Ohio residents. Sojourner Truth gaveher famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech in Akron. Sarah Margru Kinson, youngestcaptive on the notorious slave ship Amistad, was educated in Oberlin.The National Park Service has identified ten Ohio Underground Railroadsites in its National Register of Historic Places, more than exist inany other state.Because the visibilityof the Underground Railroad coincides with the largest quilt revival inhistory, it is not surprising that many quilters choose the UndergroundRailroad and the events that led up to it as the subjects of their quilts.This exhibition,THREADS OF FREEDOM: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD STORYIN QUILTS, is thematic. The quiltmakers, many from Ohio, range fromself-taught quilters to professionally trained artists. They call on historicalfacts, myths, and symbols to articulate their visions and speak to usthrough their quilts.THEQUILTS Not surprisingly, several quilters depicted the horrors of slavery intheir quilts, using such familiar images as lynching, slave chains, andthe well-known and infamous drawing of a slave ship. Among the most powerfulof these quilts areViola Burley Leak ‘sMiddle Passage and two quilts fromCarolyn Mazloomi ‘sSlave Series.BeatriceMitchellmade a quilt for her sailor-nephew, Paul. As she worked onPaul’s Quiltshe realized that the nautical images she included- ships, anchors, waves – also symbolized her family’s heritage as descendantsof enslaved Africans brought by ships to America. She redesigned her border,changing its motif to slave chains. Quite different isCathleen RichardsonBailey ‘s,Shh!,which shows the fearful eyesof slaves escaping at night.Myrah Brown Greenin herDancin’at the Tree of LifeandWandering Spiritcelebratesthe tenacity that helped many slaves “make it through.”Viola BurleyLeak ‘sThe Familycommemorates the strength of the African-Americanfamily.The earliest quiltin the exhibition is theAbolitionist Quilt,an album quiltmade around 1842 byHadleyfamily members of Clinton County, Ohio,and Wayne County, Indiana. The signers were members of the Religious Societyof Friends (Quakers). All these quiltmakers were abolitionists who supportedimmediate emancipation. The Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends opposedabolitionism and supported gradualism instead. In 1842 all the signerswho had gone from Ohio to Indiana were “read out” of their meeting ina separation that lasted thirteen painful years.THROUGHTHE NORTHWEST TERRITORY TO CANADA Because the Underground Railroad involved traveling from the South tothe northern states and Canada, several quilters included maps on theirquilts. In 1997, theColumbus Metropolitan Quilters Guildmadea quilt depicting Ohio’s role in the Underground Railroad. They basedtheir quilt,Ohio’s Underground Trails, on historian WilburSiebert’s map of Underground Railroad routes throughout Ohio. For manyslaves who successfully traveled from the South to Canada, the most accessiblegoal was Essex County, in southwestern Ontario. The genealogicalToddFamily Quilt,made byIone Toddand her daughter,DeonnaTodd Green, of Remus, Michigan, includes both embroidered texts andpictures, including a map of Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Ontario,the route their ancestor, Steven Todd, followed to escape from slavery.The center block records his wedding to Caroline Kaeler in Windsor, EssexCounty. Another map quilt, theAmherstburg Public School Children’sMap Freedom Quiltwas made in 1998 byfifth-gradersinAmherstburg, Essex County, who dedicated their quilt “to any person whodreamt to be free.”Amherstburg and Buxtonwere two of the family-based communities that former slaves establishedin Essex County. Family was understandably important to these people,who had seen generations of their own families destroyed by slavery. TheBuxton Museum has a collection of eleven quilts made there. Of these,six are signature quilts representing Buxton families. Local familiesstill celebrate reunions and commemorate them with quilts. The entirecommunity is honored in theBuxton Settlers Quilt,madeby the settlers’ descendants in 1967, the year the Buxton Museum opened.Residents of Oberlin,which was founded by abolitionists, have long been aware of their town’sinvolvement in the Underground Railroad. In 1982 members ofOberlinSeniorsdocumented Oberlin’s Underground Railroadactivitiesin theOberlin Underground Railroad Quilt.Quiltmakers includedfifth-generation descendants of both fugitive slaves and abolitionists.Their quilt has been used as a teaching tool in the Oberlin public schools.Like the Amherstburg school children, Oberlinthird-gradersmadeanUnderground Railroad Quiltin 1989, as the culminationof a course in local history.Several quilterscommemorated heroines of the Underground Railroad.Cathleen RichardsonBaileymadeSafe House: Tribute to Harriet Tubman and Her Big Gunand Hatchet to strengthen the popular image of HarrietTubman.In 1980 a group of women from northeastern Ohio succeeded in bringingJudy Chicago’sDinner Partyto Cleveland.The Akron Steering Committee of TheOhio-Chicago Art Project, Inc. made a quilt honoringSojourner Truthfor the InternationalQuilting Bee, which toured withChicago’sexhibit.Ricky Clarkalso made a quilt for the International Quilting Bee. Her quilt, Sarah Margru Kinson,honors the youngestcaptiveon the notorious slave-ship, Amistad.Finally, the UndergroundRailroad inspired several quilters to make more than one Underground Railroadquilt. After working onOhio’sUndergroundTrails, Barbara Paynewent on to make fourUnderground Railroad Quilts of her own.The Todd Family Quiltis one of three nearly identical quilts madeby Ione Todd and her daughter, Deonna.CarolineMazloomi’squilts in this exhibit are part of herSlave Series. These quiltsrepresent the culture and legacy of their makers. Through quilts the makersspeak to us all of their cultural roots and social concerns. Althoughthe Underground Railroad was tremendously effective in its time, we stillhave much work to do to ensure true equality and freedom for all Americans.Ricky Clark, QuiltHistorianEditor and co-author,Quilts in Community: Ohio’s Traditions|
|Akron Steering Committeeof The Ohio-Chicago Art Project, Inc.Akron, Kent and Cleveland, OHIn Honor of Sojourner Truth1981Cottons, cotton blends24″ x 24″ x 24″Courtesy The International Quilting Bee||Barbara Payne Columbus, OH The Underground Railroad c. 1998 Cottons, cotton blends 72″ x 59″|
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
During the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad came to an end about 1863. When it came to the Union fight against the Confederacy, its activity was carried out aboveground. This time around, Harriet Tubman played a critical role in the Union Army’s efforts to rescue the recently liberated enslaved people by conducting intelligence operations and serving in the role of leadership. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ THESE STATEMENTS. Harriet Tubman Led a Brutal Civil War Raid Following the Underground Railroad.
The True History Behind Amazon Prime’s ‘Underground Railroad’
If you want to know what this country is all about, I always say, you have to ride the rails,” the train’s conductor tells Cora, the fictitious protagonist of Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novelThe Underground Railroad, as she walks into a boxcar destined for the North. As you race through, take a look about you to see the genuine face of America.” Cora’s vision is limited to “just blackness, mile after mile,” according to Whitehead, as she peers through the carriage’s slats. In the course of her traumatic escape from servitude, the adolescent eventually understands that the conductor’s remark was “a joke.
- Cora and Caesar, a young man enslaved on the same Georgia plantation as her, are on their way to liberation when they encounter a dark other world in which they use the railroad to go to freedom.
- ” The Underground Railroad,” a ten-part limited series premiering this week on Amazon Prime Video, is directed by Moonlight filmmaker Barry Jenkins and is based on the renowned novel by Alfred North Whitehead.
- When it comes to portraying slavery, Jenkins takes a similar approach to Whitehead’s in the series’ source material.
- “And as a result, I believe their individuality has been preserved,” Jenkins says Felix.
The consequences of their actions are being inflicted upon them.” Here’s all you need to know about the historical backdrop that informs both the novel and the streaming adaptation of “The Underground Railroad,” which will premiere on May 14th. (There will be spoilers for the novel ahead.)
Did Colson Whitehead baseThe Underground Railroadon a true story?
“The reality of things,” in Whitehead’s own words, is what he aims to portray in his work, not “the facts.” His characters are entirely made up, and the story of the book, while based on historical facts, is told in an episodic style, as is the case with most episodic fiction. This book traces Cora’s trek to freedom, describing her lengthy trip from Georgia to the Carolinas, Tennessee and Indiana.) Each step of the journey presents a fresh set of hazards that are beyond Cora’s control, and many of the people she meets suffer horrible ends.) What distinguishes The Underground Railroad from previous works on the subject is its presentation of the titular network as a physical rather than a figurative transportation mechanism.
According to Whitehead, who spoke to NPR in 2016, this alteration was prompted by his “childhood belief” that the Underground Railroad was a “literal tunnel beneath the earth”—a misperception that is surprisingly widespread.
Webber Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons While the Underground Railroad was composed of “local networks of anti-slavery people,” both Black and white, according to Pulitzer Prize–winning historianEric Foner, the Underground Railroad actually consisted of “local networks of anti-slavery people, both Black and white, who assisted fugitives in various ways,” from raising funds for the abolitionist cause to taking cases to court to concealing runaways in safe houses.
Although the actual origins of the name are unknown, it was in widespread usage by the early 1840s.
Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, argues that the Underground Railroad should be referred to as the “Abolitionist Underground” rather than the “Underground Railroad” because the people who ran it “were not just ordinary, well-meaning Northern white citizens, activists, particularly in the free Black community,” she says.
As Foner points out, however, “the majority of the initiative, and the most of the danger, fell on the shoulders of African-Americans who were fleeing.” a portrait taken in 1894 of Harriet Jacobs, who managed to hide in an attic for nearly seven years after fleeing from slavery.
Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons “Recognizable historical events and patterns,” according to Foner, are used by Whitehead in a way that is akin to that of the late Toni Morrison.
According to Sinha, these effects may be seen throughout Cora’s journey.
According to Foner, author of the 2015 bookGateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, “the more you know about this history, the more you can appreciate what Whitehead is doing in fusing the past and the present, or perhaps fusing the history of slavery with what happened after the end of slavery.”
What time period doesThe Underground Railroadcover?
Caesar (Aaron Pierre) and Cora (Thuso Mbedu) believe they’ve discovered a safe haven in South Carolina, but their new companions’ behaviors are based on a belief in white supremacy, as seen by their deeds. Kyle Kaplan is a producer at Amazon Studios. The Underground Railroad takes place around the year 1850, which coincides with the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act. Runaways who had landed in free states were targeted by severe regulations, and those who supported them were subjected to heavy punishments.
In spite of the fact that it was intended to hinder the Underground Railroad, according to Foner and Sinha, the legislation actually galvanized—and radicalized—the abolitionist cause.
“Every time the individual switches to a different condition, the novel restarts,” the author explains in his introduction.
” Cora’s journey to freedom is replete with allusions to pivotal moments in post-emancipation history, ranging from the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in the mid-20th century to white mob attacks on prosperous Black communities in places like Wilmington, North Carolina (targeted in 1898), and Tulsa, Oklahoma (targeted in 1898).
According to Spencer Crew, former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and emeritus director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, this “chronological jumble” serves as a reminder that “the abolition of slavery does not herald the abolition of racism and racial attacks.” This problem has survived in many forms, with similar effects on the African American community,” says the author.
What real-life events doesThe Underground Railroaddramatize?
In Whitehead’s envisioned South Carolina, abolitionists provide newly liberated people with education and work opportunities, at least on the surface of things. However, as Cora and Caesar quickly discover, their new companions’ conviction in white superiority is in stark contrast to their kind words. (Eugenicists and proponents of scientific racism frequently articulated opinions that were similar to those espoused by these fictitious characters in twentieth-century America.) An inebriated doctor, while conversing with a white barkeep who moonlights as an Underground Railroad conductor, discloses a plan for his African-American patients: I believe that with targeted sterilization, initially for the women, then later for both sexes, we might liberate them from their bonds without worry that they would slaughter us in our sleep.
- “Controlled sterilization, research into communicable diseases, the perfecting of new surgical techniques on the socially unfit—was it any wonder that the best medical talents in the country were flocking to South Carolina?” the doctor continues.
- The state joined the Union in 1859 and ended slavery inside its borders, but it specifically incorporated the exclusion of Black people from its borders into its state constitution, which was finally repealed in the 1920s.
- In this image from the mid-20th century, a Tuskegee patient is getting his blood taken.
- There is a ban on black people entering the state, and any who do so—including the numerous former slaves who lack the financial means to flee—are murdered in weekly public rituals.
- The plot of land, which is owned by a free Black man called John Valentine, is home to a thriving community of runaways and free Black people who appear to coexist harmoniously with white residents on the property.
- An enraged mob of white strangers destroys the farm on the eve of a final debate between the two sides, destroying it and slaughtering innocent onlookers.
- There is a region of blackness in this new condition.” Approximately 300 people were killed when white Tulsans demolished the thriving Black enclave of Greenwood in 1921.
- Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons According to an article published earlier this year by Tim Madigan for Smithsonianmagazine, a similar series of events took place in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, which was known locally as “Black Wall Street,” in June 1921.
- Madigan pointed out that the slaughter was far from an isolated incident: “In the years preceding up to 1921, white mobs murdered African Americans on hundreds of instances in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Duluth, Charleston, and other places,” according to the article.
In addition, Foner explains that “he’s presenting you the variety of options,” including “what freedom may actually entail, or are the constraints on freedom coming after slavery?” “It’s about. the legacy of slavery, and the way slavery has twisted the entire civilization,” says Foner of the film.
How doesThe Underground Railroadreflect the lived experience of slavery?
“How can I construct a psychologically plausible plantation?” Whitehead is said to have pondered himself while writing on the novel. According to theGuardian, the author decided to think about “people who have been tortured, brutalized, and dehumanized their whole lives” rather than depicting “a pop culture plantation where there’s one Uncle Tom and everyone is just incredibly nice to each other.” For the remainder of Whitehead’s statement, “Everyone will be battling for the one additional mouthful of food in the morning, fighting for the tiniest piece of property.” According to me, this makes sense: “If you put individuals together who have been raped and tortured, this is how they would behave.” Despite the fact that she was abandoned as a child by her mother, who appears to be the only enslaved person to successfully escape Ridgeway’s clutches, Cora lives in the Hob, a derelict building reserved for outcasts—”those who had been crippled by the overseers’ punishments,.
who had been broken by the labor in ways you could see and in ways you couldn’t see, who had lost their wits,” as Whitehead describes Cora is played by Mbedu (center).
With permission from Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima While attending a rare birthday party for an older enslaved man, Cora comes to the aid of an orphaned youngster who mistakenly spills some wine down the sleeve of their captor, prompting him to flee.
Cora agrees to accompany Caesar on his journey to freedom a few weeks later, having been driven beyond the threshold of endurance by her punishment and the bleakness of her ongoing life as a slave.
As a result, those who managed to flee faced the potential of severe punishment, he continues, “making it a perilous and risky option that individuals must choose with care.” By making Cora the central character of his novel, Whitehead addresses themes that especially plagued enslaved women, such as the fear of rape and the agony of carrying a child just to have the infant sold into captivity elsewhere.
The account of Cora’s sexual assault in the novel is heartbreakingly concise, with the words “The Hob ladies stitched her up” serving as the final word.
Although not every enslaved women was sexually assaulted or harassed, they were continuously under fear of being raped, mistreated, or harassed, according to the report.
With permission from Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima The novelist’s account of the Underground Railroad, according to Sinha, “gets to the core of how this venture was both tremendously courageous and terribly perilous.” She believes that conductors and runaways “may be deceived at any time, in situations that they had little control over.” Cora, on the other hand, succinctly captures the liminal state of escapees.
“What a world it is.
“Was she free of bondage or still caught in its web?” “Being free had nothing to do with shackles or how much room you had,” Cora says.
The location seemed enormous despite its diminutive size.
In his words, “If you have to talk about the penalty, I’d prefer to see it off-screen.” “It’s possible that I’ve been reading this for far too long, and as a result, I’m deeply wounded by it.
view of it is that it feels a little bit superfluous to me.
In his own words, “I recognized that my job was going to be coupling the brutality with its psychological effects—not shying away from the visual representation of these things, but focusing on what it meant to the people.” “Can you tell me how they’re fighting back?
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