How Was Yhe Underground Railroad An Act Of Resistance? (Perfect answer)

The Underground Railroad was the most common indirect form of resistance by slaves. It was so expansive and effective and was still kept secret by those participating in it. Black and white people who were abolitionists and runaway slaves themselves all helped to push for their freedom.

Was the Underground Railroad a resistance?

-Harriet Tubman, 1896. The Underground Railroad— the resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, through the end of the Civil War—refers to the efforts of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage. Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape.

What role did the Underground Railroad play in the resistance to slavery?

It was used by enslaved African Americans primarily to escape into free states and Canada. The network was assisted by abolitionists and others sympathetic to the cause of the escapees. The enslaved who risked escape and those who aided them are also collectively referred to as the “Underground Railroad”.

In what way was the Underground Railroad an act of civil disobedience?

The Underground Railroad physically resisted the repressive laws that held slaves in bondage. By provoking fear and anger in the South, and prompting the enactment of harsh legislation that eroded the rights of white Americans, the Underground Railroad was a direct contributing cause of the Civil War.

What was the Underground Railroad Act?

It was developed by abolitionists and slaves as a means of escaping the harsh conditions in which African Americans were forced to live, and ultimately to assist them in gaining their freedom.

How successful was the Underground Railroad?

Ironically the Fugitive Slave Act increased Northern opposition to slavery and helped hasten the Civil War. The Underground Railroad gave freedom to thousands of enslaved women and men and hope to tens of thousands more. In both cases the success of the Underground Railroad hastened the destruction of slavery.

What was Harriet Tubman’s role in the Underground Railroad?

Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. She led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom in the North along the route of the Underground Railroad.

What was the purpose of the Underground Railroad quizlet?

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early-to-mid 19th century, and used by African-American slaves to escape into free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.

How did the Underground Railroad lead to the Civil War quizlet?

How did the Underground Railroad cause the Civil War? *The Underground Railroad was a escape route for fugitive slaves in America. *Slaves would be helped by Northerners or “Quakers” who help slaves escape to Canada. *The Underground Railroad made the South mad because this was beneficial to slaves.

What happened to the Underground Railroad?

End of the Line The Underground Railroad ceased operations about 1863, during the Civil War. In reality, its work moved aboveground as part of the Union effort against the Confederacy.

How did the South react to the Underground Railroad?

Reaction in the South to the growing number of slaves who escaped ranged from anger to political retribution. Large rewards were offered for runaways, and many people eager to make money or avoid offending powerful slave owners turned in runaway slaves. The U.S. Government also got involved.

How did the Underground Railroad cause tensions between North and South?

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 – federal legislation that allowed slave hunters to capture an escapee in any territory or state with only oral proof that the person was a runaway – increased tensions between North and South, thereby moving the country closer to war.

Why is the Underground Railroad significant?

The underground railroad, where it existed, offered local service to runaway slaves, assisting them from one point to another. The primary importance of the underground railroad was that it gave ample evidence of African American capabilities and gave expression to African American philosophy.

Who was the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad?

Our Headlines and Heroes blog takes a look at Harriet Tubman as the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. Tubman and those she helped escape from slavery headed north to freedom, sometimes across the border to Canada.

What impact did the Underground Railroad have on Canada?

They helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada. The Underground Railroad was the largest anti-slavery freedom movement in North America. It brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada).

What is the Underground Railroad? – Underground Railroad (U.S. National Park Service)

Harvey Lindsley captured a shot of Harriet Tubman. THE CONGRESSIONAL LIBRARY

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say—I neverran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.

When we talk about the Underground Railroad, we’re talking about the attempts of enslaved African Americans to obtain their freedom by escaping bondage. The Underground Railroad was a method of resisting slavery by escape and flight from 1850 until the end of the Civil War. Escape attempts were made in every location where slavery was practiced. In the beginning, to maroon villages in distant or rough terrain on the outside of inhabited regions, and later, across state and international borders.

The majority of freedom seekers began their journey unaided and the majority of them completed their self-emancipation without assistance.

  • It’s possible that the choice to aid a freedom seeking was taken on the spur of the moment.
  • People of various ethnicities, social classes, and genders took part in this massive act of civil disobedience, despite the fact that what they were doing was unlawful.
  • A map of the United States depicting the many paths that freedom seekers might follow in order to attain freedom.
  • All thirteen original colonies, as well as Spanish California, Louisiana and Florida; Central and South America; and all of the Caribbean islands were slave states until the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and British abolition of slavery brought an end to the practice in 1804.
  • The Underground Railroad had its beginnings at the site of enslavement in the United States.
  • The proximity to ports, free territories, and international borders caused a large number of escape attempts.
  • Freedom seekers used their inventiveness to devise disguises, forgeries, and other techniques, drawing on their courage and brains in the process.
  • The assistance came from a varied range of groups, including enslaved and free blacks, American Indians, and people from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds.
  • Because of their links to the whaling business, the Pacific West Coast and potentially Alaska became popular tourist destinations.

During the American Civil War, many freedom seekers sought refuge and liberty by fleeing to the Union army’s lines of communication.

A powerful symbol of resistance, the Underground Railroad inspires a wave of books, plays, TV and more

When WGN America’s drama “Underground” premiered last winter, it felt like a cultural outlier. But it quickly gained popularity. A long time ago, stories of the Underground Railroad were consigned to nonfiction or to the wide and basic brushstroked of children’s literature. Although films portraying the horrors of enslavement (“12 Years a Slave”) and the civil rights struggle (“42,” “Selma,” “All the Way”) gained popularity, the Underground Railroad went almost unnoticed in the popular culture.

Within a few weeks of the release of “Underground,” which had a soundtrack created by executive producer John Legend, came Barbara Hambly’s mystery thriller “Drinking Gourd” and Robert Morgan’s escape novel “Chasing the North Star,” both of which were written by the same author.

Earlier this autumn, the strange and subversive “Underground Railroad Game” premiered off-Broadway and received very positive reviews.

“Underground” co-creator Joe Pokaski thinks the subject “hasn’t been explored enough, so I’m not shocked that others are coming up with fresh and different perspectives to approach it.” Beginning this month, a new season of “Underground” will premiere on PBS, as well as the opening of the National Park Service’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Cambridge, Maryland, and the release of “Through Darkness to Light,” Jeanine Michna-Bales’ photographic essay of the Underground Railroad.

“The Underground River,” a novel by Martha Conway, will be released in June, and Viola Davis is producing a film on Harriet Tubman for HBO, which will star her.

Clair County, Michigan, appears.

According to Michna-Bales, “the Underground Railroad came at a time when our country was so polarized that there was no understanding on either side, so the fascination with it now might be because we’re back in that situation.” The movement blurred lines as well, bringing together white and black people, as well as people from different religions and socioeconomic groups, while also giving women roles in public life that were previously unheard of.

Her photographs are intended to convey a first-person view on what a slave would have witnessed on the long and perilous trek up the Mississippi River.

Although the term “Underground Railroad” first appeared in print about 1839, slaves have been attempting to flee since the establishment of this heinous institution.

Historians believe that the railroad assisted 30,000 to 100,000 enslaved blacks in escaping to Canada out of the millions that were slaves at the time.

Misha Green, co-creator of “Underground,” places all of these new works in the greater context of publishers and producers realizing the worth — both aesthetically and economically — of stories about minorities, from the “Roots” remake to the Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight.” Films like as “Straight Outta Compton” and “Hidden Figures” that feature characters who take charge of their own narratives are particularly noteworthy, according to her.

Indeed, Turner’s slave insurrection was the subject of a film (“Birth of a Nation”) and a play (Nathan Alan Davis’ “Nat Turner in Jerusalem”) that were both released last year.

According to him, “Fiction is the way we learn about other people,” noting waves of groups that have left their marks throughout history, from Southern authors in the 1930s to Jewish writers in the decades following World War II.

In the words of Eric Foner, a famous researcher of nineteenth-century America whose 2015 book “Gateway to Freedom” focuses on the Underground Railroad, “I believe it’s a positive thing any time people are engaged in history.” Taking artistic license with the facts is understandable to Foner, who admires Whitehead’s imaginative invention of an actual train that travels beneath the surface of the Earth.

“It’s fiction, but Whitehead also provides a kaleidoscope of information about black history.

According to Jennifer Kidwell, co-writer and costar of “Underground Railroad Game,” “These stories, like police brutality, have always existed, but now the public may be primed and willing to step beyond its own orthodoxy and direct its eyes to them,” she says.

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According to Scott Sheppard, co-writer and costar of “Underground Railroad Game,” which will travel to as-yet-undetermined locations in late 2017 and 2018, this is not your grandfather’s history that helps portray a rosier view of past crimes.

“Grant Parish, Louisiana,” from Jeanine Michna-Bales’ “In Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad,” is a photograph from the book “In Through Darkness to Light.” (Submitted by Jeanine Michna-Bales) The consequences of, and resistance to, such persecution, as well as its long-lasting impact, provide as a basis for our identity as a people.

  1. After discovering that the white abolitionist who helps him to freedom rapes the females he brings to freedom in “Drinking Gourd,” the protagonist Benjamin January, a smart and well-educated free black man, muses on his growing hatred for nearly every white person.
  2. “Underground Airlines” takes place in the present, but imagines a world in which there was no Civil War, in which slavery was only gradually eliminated, and in which slavery is still practiced in four Southern states, as in the novel.
  3. “I don’t think my alternative history is sufficiently different.” The “Underground Railroad Game” also draws a direct line between the sins of America’s history and the present.
  4. “It just so happened to be placed against the Underground Railroad,” says the author.
  5. “It’s critical that these stories are not simply about ‘Oh, these lovely white folks are assisting these unfortunate black slaves in their escape,’ but rather about free blacks and slaves asserting their own agency,” Hambly adds.
  6. “What we’re doing is not simply conveying a black narrative,” Winters explains.
  7. ‘I went back and reread my own book in November, and it read very differently,” says Conway, who is writing a novel about a Northern white woman who is dipping her toes into the activism pool.
  8. According to artist Legend, who not only acted as music curator and executive producer on “Underground,” but also portrays Frederick Douglass this season, “they will resonate differently.” People are beginning to realize how critical it is to learn our own history in order to fight back.
  9. (Submitted by Jeanine Michna-Bales) @culturemonster is the Twitter handle for The Times’ arts staff.
  10. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has received Diego Rivera’s Cubist masterwork.

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Underground Railroad

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.

Quaker Abolitionists

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

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.

Frederick Douglass

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.

John Brown

Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.

  • The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
  • Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
  • After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
  • John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
  • He managed to elude capture twice.

End of the Line

Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed.

MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.


Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.

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Underground Railroad

See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.

Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.

In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.

The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.

When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television? Return to the past for the really American responses. Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.

The Underground Railroad and the Coming of War

The Underground Railroad served as a symbol for the abolition of slavery. Despite this, many textbooks refer to it as the official name of a covert network that formerly assisted fugitive slaves in their escape. The pupils who are more literal in their thinking begin to wonder whether these established escape routes were genuinely beneath the surface of the land. However, the phrase “Underground Railroad” is best understood as a rhetorical technique that was used to illustrate a point by comparing two entities that were diametrically opposed to one another.

  1. Understanding the origins of the term has a significant impact on its meaning and use.
  2. There could be no “underground railroad” until the general public in the United States became aware with genuine railways, which occurred throughout the 1830s and 1840s.
  3. The term also draws attention to a particular geographic direction.
  4. Even while slaves fled in every direction on a map, the metaphor delivered its most potent punch in areas that were closest to the nation’s busiest railroad stations.
  5. Also, why would they want to compare and irrevocably link a large-scale operation to assist escaped slaves with a well-organized network of hidden railways in the first place?
  6. Abolitionists, or those who pushed for the abolition of slavery as soon as possible, desired to publicize, and possibly even inflate, the number of slave escapes and the depth of the network that existed to help those fugitives in order to gain public support.
  7. This appeared to be a potentially deadly game to several of the participants.

According to his Narrativein 1845, “I have never approved of the very public manner in which some of our western friends have conducted what they call theunderground railroad,” warning that these mostly Ohio-based (“western”) abolitionists were establishing a “upperground railroad” through their “open declarations.” The public’s awareness of slave escapes and open disobedience of federal law only grew in the years that followed, especially when the contentious Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed.

  1. Anxious fugitives and their accomplices retaliated with greater force this time around.
  2. A former slave called William Parker was aided to escape to Canada by him in September 1851 after Parker had organized a resistance movement in Christiana, Pennsylvania that resulted in the death of a Maryland slaveholder and the confusion of federal officials.
  3. The infamously strict statute was used to prosecute just around 350 fugitive slave cases between 1850 and 1861, with none of them taking place in the abolitionist-friendly New England states after 1854.
  4. Students sometimes appear to image escaped slaves cowering in the shadows, while cunning “conductors” and “stationmasters” constructed sophisticated covert hiding spots and coded communications to aid spirit fugitives on their route to freedom in the nineteenth century.
  5. An alternative explanation for the Underground Railroad should be offered in terms of sectional divisions as well as the onset of the Civil War.
  6. When American towns felt endangered in the nineteenth century, they turned to extra-legal “vigilance” clubs for assistance.
  7. Almost immediately, though, these organizations began providing protection to fugitive slaves who had escaped from their masters.

Many now-forgotten personalities such as Lewis Hayden, George DeBaptiste, David Ruggles, and William Still were instrumental in organizing the most active vigilance committees in cities such as Boston, Detroit, New York, and Philadelphia during the era of the Great Depression.

It was via these vigilance groups that the Underground Railroad came to be regarded as the organized core of the network.

The vigilance concept was imitated during the 1840s, when William Parker established a “mutual protection” group in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and when John Brown established his League of Gileadites in Springfield, Massachusetts, respectively.

They kept their secrets close to their chests, but these were not clandestine operators in the way of France’s Resistance.

vigilance agents in Detroit crammed newspaper pages with information regarding their monthly traffic volume.

One entrepreneurial individual circulated a business card with the words “Underground Railroad Agent” written on the back.

In addition to being available for classroom use, a surprising amount of this covert material may be found online.

The book presents the fascinating materials he collected while serving as the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee’s head of research and documentation.

And the amount of literature about the Underground Railroad that is readily available is growing all the time.

How could they disclose their presence and run the danger of being apprehended if they kept documents detailing their illicit activities?

Aside from the security provided by state personal liberty statutes, those assisting fleeing criminals sometimes benefited from an overarching unwillingness across the North to support federal action or reward southern authority.

Attempts to pass personal liberty or anti-kidnapping legislation in northern states, led by Pennsylvania, began as early as the 1820s.

The Supreme Court ruled in two important instances, Prigg v.

Booth (1859), that these northern personal liberty guarantees were unconstitutional and hence unenforceable.

They may also be surprised to learn that a federal jury in Philadelphia found the primary defendant in the Christiana treason trial not guilty after only fifteen minutes of deliberation.

This was the popular mood that was utilized by northern vigilance committees in order to keep their problematic efforts on behalf of fugitives going for as long as possible.

No well-known Underground Railroad worker was ever killed or sentenced to a considerable amount of time in prison for assisting fugitives once they crossed the Mason-Dixon Line or the Ohio River in the course of their work.

The branding of Jonathan Walker, a sea captain convicted of transporting runaways, with the mark “S.S.” (“slave-stealer”) on his hand was ordered by a federal marshal in Florida in 1844 after he was apprehended.

What did occur, on the other hand, was an increase in rhetorical violence.

The threats became more serious.

Following that, the outcomes affected the responses that eventually led to war.

The hunt for fugitives and those who assisted them served as a major catalyst for the nation’s debate about slavery, which began in 1850.

When measured in words, however, as seen by the antebellum newspaper articles, sermons, speeches, and resolutions prompted by the fugitive-hunting issue, the “Underground Railroad” proved to be a metaphor that served to spark the American Civil War in the most literal sense.

In Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, published by the Anti-Slavery Office in Boston in 1845, page 101 is quoted ().


Campbell’s book, The Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law: 1850–1860 (New York: W.

Norton, 1970), contains an appendix that discusses this topic.

See, for example, Graham Russell Gao Hodges’ David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City (David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City) (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

To learn more about this, see Fergus M.


Douglass, Frederick, “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” in Park Publishing’s Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Hartford, CT: Park Publishing, 1881), p.


He is the author of Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home (2003) and the co-director of House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, both of which are located in Pennsylvania.

Resistance and Abolition

In 1838, a $150 prize was offered. Despite the fact that it had been the law of the country for more than 300 years, American slavery was opposed and rejected on a daily basis by its victims, by its survivors, and by people who believed it to be morally wrong and immoral. It took decades of organizing and agitation on the part of African Americans and their European American supporters for the protracted effort to abolish the trade in human beings to be successful, and it was one of the great moral crusades in American history to achieve victory.

Negotiations and Insurrections

Everyday existence in a slave workplace was punctuated by a slew of little actions of everyday resistance. In spite of the fact that they were denied their freedom under the law, enslaved African Americans employed a number of techniques to challenge the authority of slaveholders and demand their right to direct their own lives. For the most part, slaveholders relied on involuntary labor to keep their enterprises running, and enslaved laborers took advantage of work slowdowns and absences to bargain for better working conditions.

  • A large number of enslaved African Americans rebelled against the slave system by fleeing.
  • Nonetheless, thousands of enslaved individuals fled to free states or territories every year.
  • By 1860, an estimated 400,000 persons had escaped from slavery, according to historical estimates.
  • Slave Africans and enslaved African Americans have taken up weapons and fought back against their oppressors throughout the history of the slave trade, including during the American Revolution.
  • A large-scale rebellion was a constant worry for slaveholders, and they disseminated vivid reports of the Turner uprising and other, often fake, plots in the expectation that this would raise public awareness of the threat to their property rights.
  • Visit African American Odyssey: Liberation Strategies for a more in-depth look at revolts and insurrections in the United States.
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Calls for Abolition

While enslaved African Americans struggled against the restrictions of slavery in their everyday lives, another war was being waged in the public arena against the institution of slavery. African Americans had been speaking out against slavery since its inception, and they were frequently joined in their efforts by European Americans, but by the beginning of the nineteenth century, the campaign for slavery’s abolition on a national scale had reached a boiling point. African Americans were denied access to these rights because of the language of the American Revolution, which invoked inherent rights and universal freedom.

  1. By the 1820s, slavery had been abolished in most Northern states, many of which had not relied on slave labor in significant amounts for some time.
  2. Once-enslaved and free African Americans were in the forefront of the abolitionist movement, and they battled on a variety of fronts.
  3. In due course, a star team of powerful public speakers was assembled, ready to be dispatched to trouble spots at a moment’s notice.
  4. Henry Highland Garnet addressed African Americans who were still enslaved, urging them to take immediate and drastic action.
  5. Take action to protect your life and liberty.
  6. Allow every slave in the nation to do this, and the days of slavery will come to an end once and for all.
  7. We would rather die as free men than as slaves.

Some African American activists continued on the struggle in a more covert manner, working covertly and arranging daring operations to release fugitives from kidnappers and lynch mobs, among other things.

A significant portion of the conflict was carried on in print.

They engaged in verbal sparring with pro-slavery apologists in the pages of newspapers and periodicals, as well as putting up broadsides on city streets.

This resulted in the creation of a new genre of writing.

In both the North and the South, their printing presses were destroyed, their books were burned, and their lives were endangered.

With their continuous attacks on slaveholder sentiment in the South, the abolitionists increased the likelihood that the issue would finally be settled by open battle.

More information about the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass may be found in the Frederick Douglass Papers, which are housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

There Were 3 Major Ways That Enslaved People Resisted a Life in Bondage

Enslaved Africans in the United States employed a variety of tactics to demonstrate their opposition to a life of servitude. They developed with the arrival in North America in 1619 of the first group of enslaved people from Africa and the Caribbean. African people were enslaved, which resulted in the development of an economic structure that lasted until the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery in 1865. However, when slavery was abolished, enslaved persons had three options for escaping a life of servitude:

  • They had the option of rebelling against their enslavers or fleeing. They might do modest, regular actions of resistance, like as slowing down their job, to show their solidarity.


There have been several notable revolts by enslaved people throughout American history, including the Stono Rebellion in 1739, Gabriel Prosser’s conspiracy in 1800, Denmark Vesey’s scheme in 1822, and Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831. However, only the Stono Rebellion and Nat Turner’s Rebellion were able to attain any level of success. White Southerners were successful in putting a stop to the other planned rebellions before they could launch an attack. Many enslavers in the United States were alarmed in the wake of the successful revolt by enslaved people in Saint-Domingue (now known as Haiti), which resulted in the colony’s independence from French, Spanish, and British military expeditions in 1804 after years of conflict with the governments of France, Spain, and Britain.

White folks outnumbered them by a wide margin.

The practice of transporting Africans to the United States in order to be sold into slavery came to an end in 1808.

This entailed “breeding” enslaved people, and many of them were afraid that if they revolted, their children, siblings, and other relatives would suffer as a result.

Freedom Seekers

Another method of resistance was to flee the situation. The majority of freedom seekers were only able to maintain their independence for a limited period of time. They could take refuge in a neighboring forest or travel to another plantation to see a family or spouse. Many of them did so in order to avoid a harsh penalty that had been threatened, to get relieve from an onerous labor, or just to get away from life as bondmen. Others were able to flee and remain in hiding for an extended period of time.

The North Star became a symbol of liberation for many enslaved people during the Revolutionary War when northern states began to abolish enslavement following the war.

These instructions were sometimes even disseminated through music, concealed within the lyrics of spirituals. According to the spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” the Big Dipper and the North Star were mentioned, and the phrase was likely meant to direct freedom seekers north to Canada.

The Risks of Fleeing

It was tough to flee the scene. Freedom seekers were forced to abandon their families and face harsh punishment or even death if they were apprehended. Many people only achieved success after numerous efforts. More freedom seekers fled from the upper South than from the lower South, owing to the fact that they were closer to the North and, therefore, closer to liberation. Because women were more likely to be sold away from their families, which included their children, it was a little easier for young males to get away with it.

  • By the nineteenth century, a network of sympathetic persons who assisted freedom seekers in their attempts to flee to the north had formed.
  • However, the majority of freedom seekers were on their own, particularly while still in the South.
  • Many escaped on foot, devising strategies to fend off pursuing canines, such as applying pepper to alter their odours, to avoid being apprehended.
  • Historians are unaware of the exact number of freedom seekers who were able to make a permanent escape.
  • Banks, who published Toward Freedom: A History of Black Americans in March, an estimated 100,000 African-Americans migrated to freedom throughout the course of the nineteenth century.

Ordinary Acts of Resistance

It was daily resistance or little acts of revolt that were the most popular form of protest. Resistance tactics such as sabotage, such as damaging tools or setting fire to structures, were used in this campaign. A blow on an enslaver’s property was a method of striking directly at the man himself, although in an indirect manner. Some other means of day-to-day resistance included feigning illness, remaining silent, or slowing down work. Both men and women pretended to be unwell in order to obtain relieve from their difficult working conditions.

  • At the very least, some enslavers would have want to preserve their ability to carry children.
  • They should also try to slow down their work rate whenever feasible.
  • Author Deborah Gray White describes the example of a freed slave who was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1755 for poisoning her enslaver, according to historical records.
  • In order to keep their children out of bondage, she speculates that mothers may have utilized birth control or abortion to do so.
  • Throughout the history of enslavement in the United States, Africans and African Americans have resisted whenever they have had the opportunity.

Enslaved people, on the other hand, were able to fight the system of bondage via the development of a separate culture and through their religious beliefs, which allowed them to maintain hope in the face of such harsh persecution.

Additional References

  • Lacy K. Ford is the author of this work. Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South, 1st edition, Oxford University Press, August 15, 2009, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Franklin, John Hope. Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South, 1st edition, Oxford University Press, August 15, 2009, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Franklin, John Hope. Rebels on the Plantation, also known as Runaway Slaves. Loren Schweninger, Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2000
  • Raboteau, Albert J.Slave Religion: The ‘Invisible Institution’ in the Antebellum South, Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2004
  • White, Deborah Gray, Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2000
  • Raboteau, Albert J.Slave Religion: The ‘Invisible Institution’ in the Antebellum South, Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2000
  • Raboteau, Let My People Go: 1804-1860 (The Young Oxford History of African Americans), 1st edition, Oxford University Press, 1996, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Let My People Go: 1804-1860 (The Young Oxford History of African Americans), 1st edition, Oxford University Press, 1996, Oxford, United Kingdom

Roots of Resistance: The Story of the Underground Railroad. Dir. and prod. by Orlando Bagwell. Roja Productions, 1989, 2007. 56 mins. (wgbh Boston Video,

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In order to purchase short-term access, you must first log into your Oxford Academic account (see above). If you don’t already have an Oxford Academic account, create one now. Register The Underground Railroad: The Story of Its Origins is a book on the history of resistance. Orlando Bagwell directed and produced the film. Roja Productions, 1989; Roja Productions, 2007. The video is 56 minutes long (wgbhBoston Video, with 24-hour access). EUR €37.00GBP £29.00USD $47.00 EUR €37.00GBP £29.00USD $47.00


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