Spirituals, a form of Christian song of African American origin, contained codes that were used to communicate with each other and help give directions. Some believe Sweet Chariot was a direct reference to the Underground Railroad and sung as a signal for a slave to ready themselves for escape.
How did the slaves communicate with each other?
Slaves from different countries, tribes and cultures used singing as a way to communicate during the voyage. They were able to look for kin, countrymen and women through song. These songs were influenced by African and religious traditions and would later form the basis for what is known as “Negro Spirituals”.
What were some secret signals Harriet Tubman used to communicate with the slaves?
Harriet Tubman and other slaves used songs as a strategy to communicate with slaves in their struggle for freedom. Coded songs contained words giving directions on how to escape also known as signal songs or where to meet known as map songs. Read more about Underground Railroad secret code language.
How did slaves communicate to each other in plantations?
Through singing, call and response, and hollering, slaves coordinated their labor, communicated with one another across adjacent fields, bolstered weary spirits, and commented on the oppressiveness of their masters.
How did slaves know where they were going?
Escaping slaves could find it by locating the Big Dipper, a well-recognized asterism most visible in the night sky in late winter and spring. Many former slaves, including historical figures like Tubman, used the celestial gourd, or dipper, to guide them on their journey north.
How was communication used in the Underground Railroad?
Supporters of the Underground Railroad used words railroad conductors employed everyday to create their own code as secret language in order to help slaves escape. Underground Railroad code was also used in songs sung by slaves to communicate among each other without their masters being aware.
What language did the slaves speak?
Enslaved Africans came to the US speaking hundreds of different languages, depending on the region they came from. Some of these include Yoruba, Twi, Wollof, Igbo, Arabic, and many versions of Bantu languages.
What are coded spirituals?
In African American history, especially during the experience of enslavement, spirituals were sometime coded, meaning that the meaning was intentionally disguised from the slave holders and other whites through use of words or phrases understood by the singers, but not by the slave holders.
How was Harriet Tubman able to navigate slaves to freedom What resources did she use?
Harriet Tubman, perhaps the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, helped hundreds of runaway slaves escape to freedom. She never lost one of them along the way. Both of their homes served as Underground Railroad stations.
How did Harriet Tubman use her voice?
“We know that she used the call of an owl to alert refugees and her freedom seekers that it was OK, or not OK, to come out of hiding and continue their journey,” Crenshaw says. “It would have been the Barred Owl, or as it is sometimes called, a ‘hoot-owl.
Was the Underground Railroad an actual railroad?
Nope! Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a railroad in the way Amtrak or commuter rail is. It wasn’t even a real railroad. The Underground Railroad of history was simply a loose network of safe houses and top secret routes to states where slavery was banned.
Why does the author choose to call the individuals who worked on the Underground Railroad conductors?
Why does the author choose to call the individuals who worked on the Underground Railroad “conductors”? They were responsible for driving the trains that took slaves from slavery in the South to freedom in the North. They carried pistols on their hips that were known by people in the North as “conductors.”
How did the Underground Railroad help enslaved African Americans?
How did the Underground Railroad help enslaved African Americans? It provided a network of escape routes toward the North. In his pamphlet Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, on what did David Walker base his arguments against slavery? They feared that the abolition of slavery would destroy their economy.
What code words were used in the Underground Railroad?
The code words often used on the Underground Railroad were: “ tracks” (routes fixed by abolitionist sympathizers); “stations” or “depots” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “agents” (sympathizers who helped the slaves connect to the Railroad); “station masters” (those who hid slaves in
Why was the Underground Railroad called a railroad?
(Actual underground railroads did not exist until 1863.) According to John Rankin, “It was so called because they who took passage on it disappeared from public view as really as if they had gone into the ground. After the fugitive slaves entered a depot on that road no trace of them could be found.
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.
Underground Railroad Secret Codes : Harriet Tubman
Supporters of the Underground Railroad made use of the following words: Railroad conductors were hired on a daily basis to construct their own code as a secret language in order to assist slaves in escaping. The railroad language was chosen since it was a new mode of transportation at the time, and its communication language was not widely used. Secret code phrases would be used in letters sent to “agents” in order to ensure that if they were intercepted, they would not be apprehended. A form of Underground Railroad code was also utilized in slave songs to allow slaves to communicate with one another without their owners being aware of their activities.
|Agent||Coordinator, who plotted courses of escape and made contacts.|
|Baggage||Fugitive slaves carried by Underground Railroad workers.|
|Bundles of wood||Fugitives that were expected.|
|Conductor||Person who directly transported slaves|
|Drinking Gourd||Big Dipper and the North Star|
|Flying bondsmen||The number of escaping slaves|
|Forwarding||Taking slaves from station to station|
|Freedom train||The Underground Railroad|
|French leave||Sudden departure|
|Gospel train||The Underground Railroad|
|Stockholder||Those who donated money, food, clothing.|
|Load of potatoes||Escaping slaves hidden under farm produce in a wagon|
|Operator||Person who helped freedom seekers as a conductor or agent|
|Parcel||Fugitives that were expected|
|Patter roller||Bounty hunter hired to capture slaves|
|Preachers||Leaders of and spokespersons for the Underground Railroad|
|River Jordan||Ohio River|
|Shepherds||People who encouraged slaves to escape and escorted them|
|Station||Place of safety and temporary refuge, a safe house|
|Station master||Keeper or owner of a safe house|
Following that will be Songs of the Underground Railroad. Underground Railroad codes, coded language, coded music, Underground Railroad followers, underground railroad, supporters of the Underground Railroad Underground Railroad is a subcategory of the category Underground Railroad.
6 Strategies Harriet Tubman and Others Used to Escape Along the Underground Railroad
Despite the horrors of slavery, the decision to run was not an easy one. Sometimes escaping meant leaving behind family and embarking on an adventure into the unknown, where harsh weather and a shortage of food may be on the horizon. Then there was the continual fear of being apprehended. On both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, so-called slave catchers and their hounds were on the prowl, apprehending runaways — and occasionally free Black individuals likeSolomon Northup — and taking them back to the plantation where they would be flogged, tortured, branded, or murdered.
In total, close to 100,000 Black individuals were able to flee slavery in the decades leading up to the Civil War.
The majority, on the other hand, chose to go to the Northern free states or Canada.
1: Getting Help
Harriet Tubman, maybe around the 1860s. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. No matter how brave or brilliant they were, few enslaved individuals were able to free themselves without the assistance of others. Even the smallest amount of assistance, such as hidden instructions on how to get away and who to trust, may make a significant difference. The most fortunate, on the other hand, were those who followed so-called “conductors,” like as Harriet Tubman, who, after escaping slavery in 1849, devoted her life to the Underground Railroad.
Tubman, like her other conductors, built a network of accomplices, including so-called “stationmasters,” who helped her hide her charges in barns and other safe havens along the road.
She was aware of which government officials were receptive to bribery.
Among other things, she would sing particular tunes or impersonate an owl to indicate when it was time to flee or when it was too hazardous to come out of hiding. She also mailed coded letters and dispatched couriers to deliver them.
Tubman developed a number of other methods during the course of her career to keep her pursuers at arm’s length. For starters, she preferred to operate during the winter months when the longer evenings allowed her to cover more land. Also, she wanted to go on Saturday because she knew that no announcements about runaways would appear in the papers until the following Monday (since there was no paper on Sunday.) Tubman carried a handgun, both for safety and to scare people under her care who were contemplating retreating back to civilization.
The railroad engineer would subsequently claim that “I never drove my train off the track” and that he “never lost a passenger.” Tubman frequently disguised herself in order to return to Maryland on a regular basis, appearing as a male, an old lady, or a middle-class free black, depending on the occasion.
- They may, for example, approach a plantation under the guise of a slave in order to apprehend a gang of escaped slaves.
- Some of the sartorial efforts were close to brilliance.
- They traveled openly by rail and boat, surviving numerous near calls along the way and eventually making it to the North.
- After dressing as a sailor and getting aboard the train, he tried to trick the conductor by flashing his sailor’s protection pass, which he had obtained from an accomplice.
- Enslaved women have hidden in attics and crawlspaces for as long as seven years in order to evade their master’s unwelcome sexual approaches.
4: Codes, Secret Pathways
Circa 1887, Harriet Tubman (far left) is shown with her family and neighbors at her home in Auburn, New York. Photograph courtesy of MPI/Getty Images The Underground Railroad was almost non-existent in the Deep South, where only a small number of slaves were able to flee. While there was less pro-slavery attitude in the Border States, individuals who assisted enslaved persons there still faced the continual fear of being ratted out by their neighbors and punished by the law enforcement authorities.
In the case of an approaching fugitive, for example, the stationmaster may get a letter referring to them as “bundles of wood” or “parcels.” The terms “French leave” and “patter roller” denoted a quick departure, whilst “slave hunter” denoted a slave hunter.
It was possible for fugitives to utilize a secret chamber or secret passage on occasion, which would later come to be associated with the Underground Railroad in the popular imagination.
5: Buying Freedom
The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, functioned openly and shamelessly for long of its duration, despite the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which prescribed heavy fines for anybody proven to have helped runaways. Stationmasters in the United States claimed to have sheltered thousands of escaped slaves, and their activities were well documented. A former enslaved man who became a stationmaster in Syracuse, New York, even referred to himself in writing as the “keeper of the Underground Railroad depot” in his hometown of Syracuse, New York.
At times, abolitionists would simply purchase the freedom of an enslaved individual, as they did in the case of Sojourner Truth.
Besides that, they worked to sway public opinion by funding talks by Truth and other former slaves to convey the miseries of bondage to public attention.
The Underground Railroad volunteers would occasionally band together in large crowds to violently rescue fleeing slaves from captivity and terrify slave catchers into going home empty-handed if all else failed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, John Brown was one among those who advocated for the use of brutal force. Abolitionist leader John Brown led a gang of armed abolitionists into Missouri before leading a failed uprising in Harpers Ferry, where they rescued 11 enslaved individuals and murdered an enslaver.
Brown was followed by pro-slavery troops throughout the voyage.
Underground Railroad Terminology
Written by Dr. Bryan Walls As a descendant of slaves who traveled the Underground Railroad, I grew up enthralled by the stories my family’s “Griot” told me about his ancestors. It was my Aunt Stella who was known as the “Griot,” which is an African name that means “keeper of the oral history,” since she was the storyteller of our family. Despite the fact that she died in 1986 at the age of 102, her mind remained keen till the very end of her life. During a conversation with my Aunt Stella, she informed me that John Freeman Walls was born in 1813 in Rockingham County, North Carolina and journeyed on the Underground Railroad to Maidstone, Ontario in 1846.
- Many historians believe that the Underground Railroad was the first big liberation movement in the Americas, and that it was the first time that people of many races and faiths came together in peace to fight for freedom and justice in the United States.
- Escaped slaves, as well as those who supported them, need rapid thinking as well as a wealth of insight and information.
- The Underground Railroad Freedom Movement reached its zenith between 1820 and 1865, when it was at its most active.
- A Kentucky fugitive slave by the name of Tice Davids allegedly swam across the Ohio River as slave catchers, including his former owner, were close on his trail, according to legend.
- He was most likely assisted by nice individuals who were opposed to slavery and wanted the practice to be abolished.
- “He must have gotten away and joined the underground railroad,” the enraged slave owner was overheard saying.
- As a result, railroad jargon was employed in order to maintain secrecy and confound the slave hunters.
In this way, escaping slaves would go through the forests at night and hide during the daytime hours.
In order to satiate their hunger for freedom and proceed along the treacherous Underground Railroad to the heaven they sung about in their songs—namely, the northern United States and Canada—they took this risky route across the wilderness.
Despite the fact that they were not permitted to receive an education, the slaves were clever folks.
Freedom seekers may use maps created by former slaves, White abolitionists, and free Blacks to find their way about when traveling was possible during the day time.
The paths were frequently not in straight lines; instead, they zigzagged across wide places in order to vary their smell and confuse the bloodhounds on the trail.
The slaves could not transport a large amount of goods since doing so would cause them to become sluggish.
Enslaved people traveled the Underground Railroad and relied on the plant life they encountered for sustenance and medical treatment.
The enslaved discovered that Echinacea strengthens the immune system, mint relieves indigestion, roots can be used to make tea, and plants can be used to make poultices even in the winter when they are dormant, among other things.
After all, despite what their owners may have told them, the Detroit River is not 5,000 miles wide, and the crows in Canada will not peck their eyes out.
Hopefully, for the sake of the Freedom Seeker, these words would be replaced by lyrics from the “Song of the Fugitive: The Great Escape.” The brutal wrongs of slavery I can no longer tolerate; my heart is broken within me, for as long as I remain a slave, I am determined to strike a blow for freedom or the tomb.” I am now embarking for yonder beach, beautiful land of liberty; our ship will soon get me to the other side, and I will then be liberated.
No more will I be terrified of the auctioneer, nor will I be terrified of the Master’s frowns; no longer will I quiver at the sound of the dogs baying.
All of the brave individuals who were participating in the Underground Railroad Freedom Movement had to acquire new jargon and codes in order to survive. To go to the Promised Land, one needed to have a high level of ability and knowledge.
Music Was The Secret Language Of The Underground Railroad
While in elementary school, we were all taught about the Underground Railroad, which was a network of hidden ways slaves used to escape to freedom from slavery. It continues to be one of the most intriguing examples of bravery and resistance in the history of the United States. In spite of this, many of us have little knowledge of how it truly worked. What was the best technique for escaping slaves to figure out which way to go? What method did people use to communicate across hundreds of miles before the Internet existed?
Because it was prohibited in most southern states to educate slaves to read or write, songs coded with secret messages were used to communicate information about the trip north.
In order to connect with visitors, Harriet Tubman, sometimes known as “Moses,” employed music.
Some historians are doubtful about the origins of these songs and their secret codes because there is no recorded confirmation of their existence or of their hidden codes.
Follow The Drinking Gourd
“When the light returns and the first fowl calls, follow the drinking gourd to the water source. “Follow the drinking gourd to where the elderly guy is waiting to take you to freedom.” ” Follow The Drinking Gourd ” is considered to be one of the greatest examples of a “map song,” as it offers vital information for slaves attempting to elude capture. This poem’s first line refers to the beginning of spring (when the days are longer), which was the finest time to embark on the lengthy trek to the North.
When travelers followed the path of the constellation Polaris (the north star), they had a guide in the night sky that guided them in the direction of freedom and independence.
Wade In The Water
“Take a dip in the water. God is going to cause turmoil in the sea. What is the identity of those children who are all dressed in red? God is going to cause turmoil in the sea. They must be the ones who followed Moses. “God is going to cause turmoil in the sea.” Some believe that Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade In The Water,” which used Biblical imagery to avoid being suspected, to instruct runaway slaves on how to avoid capture and escape from slavery. If they were concerned that they were being followed, they might take cover in the water, which would keep bloodhounds off their trail.
It has been covered by a variety of artists, including Mavis Staples, Eva Cassidy, and Bob Dylan, since it was initially released as a song with words in 1901.
The title of the award-winning documentary ” Trouble The Water,” which is based on the lyrics of the song, was also inspired by lyrics from the song.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
“Swing low, lovely chariot, coming for to bring me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home.” I looked around Jordan and what did I see coming for me to take me home, I don’t know. Coming after me is a group of angels who are determined to bring me home. ” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot ” is thought to be Harriet Tubman’s favorite song, and it is one of the most enduring tunes from this time period.
The Underground Railroad’s directors (sweet chariot) were known to as the “band of angels” since they would soon arrive from the south (swing low) to escort slaves up the railroad to freedom (carry me home).
Underground Music Today
While many of these songs are still well-known folk melodies today, others have fallen into obscurity as time has passed. John Legend, executive producer of WGN America’s “Underground,” is working to change that by re-recording African American folk music for a modern audience, according to the network. “Underground” combines spiritual melodies such as “Move, Daniel” and “I Got Shoes” with new music by Kanye West and The Weeknd in order to elicit a sense of resistance from the listener. John Legend is currently working on original music for the film ‘Underground.’ “I thought that all of the songs had to have a certain rawness to it,” Legend explained.
As the songs of the Underground Railroad continue to have an impact on contemporary music, we are reminded that the challenges of 1857 are not unlike from those of 2017.
North Star to Freedom (U.S. National Park Service)
Harriet Tubman as a young woman, around 1860s, seen in a seated picture. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. The National Park Service tells the story of Harriet Tubman, a former slave who became an abolitionist, the Underground Railroad, and the many great Americans who lived throughout the 1800s whose daring deeds carried slaves to freedom and contributed to the abolition of slavery. The National Park Service (NPS) looks on the significance of the night sky in the lives of the founding fathers of our country as we commemorate our nation’s freedom.
- Traveling under the cover of darkness generally provided the finest opportunities for escape.
- The capacity of a runaway to safely get to a safe house, railroad station, or the woods without the aid of these equipment was frequently a matter of life and death.
- NPS According to slave legend, the North Star played an important role in assisting slaves in their quest for freedom, serving as a light to the true north.
- This item’s form is similar to a dipping ladle or drinking gourd, as implied by its name.
- For millennia, celestial navigation knowledge (navigating by studying the stars and other patterns in the night sky) was passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition.
- Slaves were able to navigate their path without becoming disoriented as a result of this information.
- Many slave narratives and ballads made use of the Big Dipper and the North Star as symbols of freedom.
- The night sky is a canvas of storytelling that connects us to our ancestors and their history.
When you look up at the night sky, remember the story of the drinking gourd and those early Americans who placed their lives on the promise of freedom on a star. Follow the sheet music and fragments of the Drinking Gourd. The Texas Folklore Society was founded in 1928.
Follow the Drinking Gourd
When the light returns and the firs’ quail begin to call, you know it is time to go. Follow the drinkin’ gou’d wherever he goes. If you want to drink, you should drink; if you want to drink, you should drink. “Foller the drinkin gou’d,” said the elderly gentleman. The riva comes to an end between two hills,following the drinking gou’d; there is another riva on the opposite side. ‘Follers the drinkin gou’d,’ said the bartender. What’s up with the small riva? Meet the hulking colossus, Foller the drinkin’ gou’d is waiting for the elderly guy.
- Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland
- The Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
- The Civil War
- Exploring Night Skies in National Parks
- Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland
- In the night sky, there are signs of spring
Julie West, Communications Specialist for the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, contributed to this article.
Slavery and the Underground Railroad in Maryland
|Though we may never know with any certainty what motivated Marylanders of all walks to violate the laws of their state by helping those on the run, the record reflects that many did indeed assist fugitives from slavery. This type of activity has been traditionally interpreted as situated in free states, not slave states like Maryland (click map at left for more). Recognition has been afforded the fact that the South was indeed the source of slaves fleeing during the Antebellum Era, and that to actually reach a free state – to tap into the organized network for assistance in the free states known as the Underground Railroad – constituted no mean feat. Yet little recognition has been afforded the environments out of which the slaves fled, including but not limited to the slave communities on the plantations and other environments of bondage, as having helped to foster these results – successful flight. Stripped of long refuted notions of the inferiority and complete dependency of enslaved communities, evidence suggests that Southerners (black and white) had a role to play in helping slaves cross the Mason-Dixon Line.Such a role employed conventions of assistance, if not a true system. The most important attribute of these conventions of assistance reveal Antebellum communities, especially in Maryland, to have represented something of a network that complemented the more formal, regional networks of the free states. From the farthest vantage, then, two networks are apparent. The first – what we are calling the Northern Underground Railroad – entailed the concerted, organized, integrated system of communication, transportation, and finance aimed at assisting fugitives slaves, upon there arrival in free states, to avoid recapture and return to slave states. The second network, though by no means secondary network – the Southern Underground Railroad – carried forth a more basic penchant of resistance to slavery as exhibited by the enslaved themselves (and others) on the plantations in the slave states. This involved running, or in a wide range of ways helping others to run, or keep running. These two networks can be seen as cooperative. Indeed, the Southern Underground Railroad benefited from the Northern Underground Railroad. Closest inspection reveals, however, that the Northern Underground Railroad could not have existed without the Southern Underground Railroad. As to the different functions of the two networks, one fact is clear: with but a few known exceptions, abolitionists and their organizations for assisting folks on the run did not – indeed, could not – reach into the Southern slave states and pull blacks out. “While many sympathized with the slave in his chains, and freely wept over his destiny, or gave money to help buy his freedom, but few could be found who were willing to rake the risk of going into the South, and standing face to face with Slavery, in order to conduct a panting slave to freedom,” wrote Underground Railroad chronicler, William Still, “the undertaking was too fearful to think of in most cases.”1 How the enslaved reached the stations of the Northern Underground Railroad, that is, was the work of the Southern Underground Railroad. “It is clear,” noted John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger in Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, “some runaways had a network of black friends and loved ones from whom they could expect assistance.”2 Furthermore, though beyond the scope of this particular study, it has been largely conceded that what we are calling the Southern Underground Railroad was much older, dating to the seventeenth century in all probability.3 Thus, rather than view the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania – the Mason and Dixon Line – as one between monoliths of solitary flight and assisted flight, it may be more accurate to recast that line as a Promontory of the Underground Railroad. For, just as the ceremonial golden spike driven-in at Promontory Summit, Utah in 1869, would represent the union of two railway systems, so too did the Mason and Dixon Line represent the union of two systems of flight. In terms of opportunity to support such flight that operated “beneath” anything connected to a more recognizable Northern Underground Railroad, Maryland was uniquely situated. Most important in this way was its access to major cities at Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Free blacks generally, urban ones in particular, comprised the usual suspects for those pursuing runaways. If a fugitive had kinfolk in nearby big cities (enslaved or free), pursuers presumed their complicity. Furthermore, the cities of the Upper South, particularly larger cities, offered perhaps the safest place for the influence of Northern abolitionists to engage those on the run; for connections between the “lines” of the Southern Underground Railroad and the Northern Underground Railroad. It is believed, for example, that free black street vendors in Baltimore acted as “agents,” directing would-be passengers to people in Philadelphia, New York, and elsewhere.4 In this and other ways, activities transpired in Maryland can be seen as feeding the Northern Underground Railroad, which could only pick up “passengers” once they had reached Pennsylvania, escorting them to New York, New England, or Canada. What is more, Marylanders – particularly black Marylanders – could and did act independently in helping those on the run. Frederick Douglass’s account of his escape from Baltimore demonstrates this clearly; he would not have gotten out without the complicity and willful participation of others, enslaved and free. None of his co-conspirators was an “abolitionist” in the traditional usage of the term.5 Notes|
Songs of the Underground Railroad – Wikipedia
Finding Polaris (Ursae Minoris), the North Star, can be accomplished by picturing a line running from Merak () to Dubhe () and then extending it for five times the distance between Dubhe () and Polaris. The title of the song is thought to be a reference to the star configuration (anasterism) known in America as the Big Dipper and in Europe as The Plough, both of which are visible in the night sky. The Big Dipper’s pointer stars are in perfect alignment with the North Star. As a result, the repeated lyric “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” in this song is sometimes understood as a directive to runaway slaves to trek north by following the North Star in this song.
Songs were used to send messages and directions regarding when, where, and how to flee, as well as to warn slaves of hazards and difficulties they may encounter along the way, because it was prohibited in most slave states to educate slaves to read or write.
” Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd ” is a song that has been attributed to the Underground Railroad. The song’s title is claimed to relate to the star configuration (anasterism) known in America as the Big Dipper and in Europe as the Plough. The Big Dipper’s pointer stars are in perfect alignment with the North Star. As a result, the repeated line “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” is frequently interpreted as instructions to escaping slaves to travel north by following the North Star, leading them to the northern states and Canada, and ultimately freedom: The song ostensibly encodes escape instructions and a map from Mobile, Alabama up the Tombigbee River, over a divide to the Tennessee River, then downriver to where the Tennessee and Ohio rivers meet in Paducah, Kentucky.
Slave morale and spirit may have been enhanced as a result of this song, giving them hope that there was a better location waiting for them than where they were currently located.
In the song, the oppressor is the pharaoh, but in actual life, the oppressor would have been the slave owner.
Throughout his 19th-century autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave(1845), Frederick Douglass provides examples of how slaves’ songs might have varied meanings in different contexts.
“A keen observer might have detected something more than a hope of reaching heaven in our repeated singing of ‘O Canaan, sweet Canaan, I am bound for the land of Canaan,’ and the north was our Canaan,” Douglass writes in My Bondage and Freedom: “I thought I heard them say,/ There were lions in the way,/ I don’t expect to stay/ Much longer here/was a favorite air and had a double meaning.
we did many silly things, very well calculated to awaken suspicion,” Douglass writes at the start of the same paragraph, before going on to discuss how their repeated singing of freedom was one of those “many silly things” that the slave owner could have seen through.
Urban legend or truth
While many people think that the stories related about the songs of the Underground Railroad are real, there are also many others who feel the stories are not factual. Some believe that songs of the Underground Railroad are urban legends that date back to the late twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Skeptics contend that the narrative has been taken up by credulous authors and published as fact without any historical backing. Some authors who believe the song contained instructions for escaping slavery acknowledge the ephemeral nature of oral history, frequently prefacing their statements with phrases such as “supposed,” “according to folklorists,” and “gospelologists cite” to emphasize the transient nature of oral history.
” The arguments of some researchers are that while slave songs may have conveyed hope for release from the woes of this life, these songs did not provide literal assistance to runaway slaves.
There is evidence, however, that Harriet Tubman, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, made use of at least two songs.
“Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd”
According to some sources, the hypothesis arose from an elaboration of a folktale recorded in John A. Lomax’s 1934 book American Ballads and Folk Songs. He quotes a story from H.B Parks in his preface to “Foller de Drinkin’ Gou’d,” on page 227, in his section on reels: “One of my great-uncles, who was connected with the railroad movement, remembered that in the records of the Anti-Slavery Society there was a story of a peg-leg sailor, known asPeg-Leg Joe, who traveled through the South and induced young Negroes .
Peg-leg sailors would.
There was nothing else that could be discovered about the individual.
‘The grea’ huge un’ is known as the Ohio.
Songs associated with the Underground Railroad
- Following the Drinking Gourd
- Go Down Moses
- Let Us Break Bread Together
- Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
- Steal Away(To Jesus)
- Wade in the Water
- Song of the Free
- Follow the Drinking Gourd
- Swing Low, Sweet Chariot On his album Africa/Brass, John Coltrane has a song named “Song of the Underground Railroad,” as well as “Down in the River to Pray,” ” Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” and ” Down in the River to Pray.”
- Songs like ” Jimmy Crack Corn,” ” Slave Songs of the United States,” and ” The Gospel Train” are among the best-known.
- ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd, A Cultural History’ is a book about following the drinking gourd. “Collection Story,” “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History,” “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History.” Song lyrics were retrieved on October 18, 2010
- This page was last modified on August 9, 2010. Ray Watson is the author of “Ezekiel’s Wheels” and “The Secret Place.” This page was last modified on August 9, 2010. Curry Brothers Publishing (2006) published the book The Legend of the Dancing Trees, Teachers Resource, written by Kenneth Curry and Gladys Menzies with Robert Curry. Every Time I Feel the Spirit: 101 Best-Loved Psalms, Gospel Hymns, and Other Spiritual Songs, by Gwendolin Sims Warren In Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, published by Owl Books in 1999, p. 16 it is stated: Three of the songs in this spirituals section, ” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot “, “Go Down, Moses “, and “Steal Away “, are sung in the following ways: Craig Werner’s book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America, is a must-read. According to the University of Michigan Press (2006), p. 7: “Songs like, “Wade in the water,” “Good news, de chariot’s coming,” “Swing low sweet chariot,” and “Steal away” were all supposed to have coded meanings, according to Claude A. Green, Jr.’s OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47: “Songs like, “Wade in the water,” ” The following is taken from William C. Kashatus’ Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, published by the Chester County Historical Society in 2002, page 18: ” “A song called “Follow the Drinking Gourd” was used by some slaves to communicate their desire to emancipate themselves, according to folklorists, and the words contained hidden messages. “Wade in the Water, Children,” says the instructor. “Let’s get together and have some bread.””
- s^ Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004), p. 665: Oliver Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004), p. 665: “Gospelologists point to the song ” Wade in the Water ” as an example of a song that was written for one reason but was covertly utilized for a different one. Slaves recited it as part of the baptismal rite, but it was also used by Underground RailroadconductorHarriet Tubman (dubbed “a woman name Moses”) to communicate to fugitive slaves fleeing to the North that they should “wade in the water” in order to throw bloodhounds off their scent as they attempted to reach the North.”
- s^ Marc Aronson’s article “History That Never Happened” appeared in the April 1, 2007 issue of School Library Journal. James Kelley is the author of this work (April 2008). “Whether via song, tale, or history, African American spirituals are defying claims of a hidden message. “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” the drinking gourd says “. In 2008, The Journal of Popular Culture published 41(2): 262–80 with the doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2008.00502.x
- Joel Bresler’s “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History” is available online. retrieved on 2008-05-05
- See pages 26–27
- Marc Aronson’s article “History That Never Happened” appeared in the April 1, 2007 issue of School Library Journal. “There may be an older version of “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” that was sung by escaping slaves, and this may be the discovery of some industrious researcher in the future. Our job to young readers, in the meantime, is to pay attention to our own doubts and to be candid skeptics in our own lives. It is up to the next generation of scholars to demonstrate that we were mistaken
- “Song, Story, or History: Resisting Claims of a Coded Message in the African American Spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” The Journal of Popular American Culture 41.2 (April 2008): 262–80
- H.B. Parks in Volume VII of the Publications of the Texas Folk-Lore Society). James Kelley, ” Song, Story, or History: Resisting Claims of a Coded Message in the African American Spiritual “Follow “
- In addition, there is the constellation known as the Big Dipper, which is utilized for navigational purposes. The North Star will always point you in the right direction. Tubman is said to have utilized the Big Dipper and the North Star as navigational aids. In the words of some authors, Tubman would explain that her father taught her about the Big Dipper so that she would always know where she was on her road to freedom
- AbcWilliam C. Kashatus,Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, Chester County Historical Society (2002), p. 18
- AbcGwendolin Sims Warren,Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit: 101 Best-Loved Psalms, Gospel Hymns, and Spirituals, p. 18
- AbcWilliam C. Kashatus,Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, Chester Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, Owl Books (1999), p. 16
- Ab Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, Owl Books (1999), p. 16
- Claude A. Green, Jr., OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47
- Craig Werner, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47
- Claude A. Green, Jr., OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing 665
- Oliver Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004)
- University of Michigan Press (2006), p. 7
Codes & Hiding places · The Underground Railroad · The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Borderland
The fugitives concealed in carts behind bales of hay or loads of vegetables. Slaves and conductors used codes to communicate with one another in order to maintain secrecy inside the Underground Network. The postal service acted as a controllable and dependable means of communicating about the delivery of “packages” or fugitives to their destinations. To prepare for the arrival of fugitives in the North, activists penned letters to their friends in the South. John C. Long of Chillicothe, Ohio, received letters from his brother in which he requested forgeries of the Declaration of Independence.
- According to a fugitive’s letter to his still-enslaved wife sent in August 1841, black boatmen would take his wife and their friends to the abolitionists.
- When the fugitive and the conductors came face to face, prepared signals made it easy to identify who was who.
- Conductors used the phrase “friend of a friend” to mark the coming of a runaway, which was derived from the Quaker religion’s Friends of Society movement.
- Rankin’s house was perched on a hill, and a lamp directed the thousands of fugitives who made their way across the Ohio border.
- After meeting the fugitive in the dark, Gragston inquired, “What do you have to say?” The fugitive responded with the word “Menare.” 408 E.
- Hiding spots for fugitives provided them with a temporary haven before continuing their trek north.
- Slaves were carried on wagons with secret compartments below bales of hay or bales of vegetables.
- It was 1862 when an Indiana Army regiment disguised and ferried over the river to safety a fugitive from justice.
- Blaine Hudson’s “Crossing the Dark Line,” published in the 75th issue of the Filmon Club Quarterly (2001) 33.
- 45 in Joe William Trotter’s River Jordan: African American Urban Life in the Ohio Valley (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1998).
“From Slavery to Freedom,” The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 East Freedom Way. Pamela Peters is the author of this work. Floyd County, Indiana, was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2001. Escape CodesHidden locations
The Underground Railroad
- In what capacity did the Underground Railroad function? Personal Narratives
- The History of Slavery in Colonial America
- Slavery in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio
- Personal Narratives
- “Liberty Lines”
- The reason for the escape
- Hiding spots
- The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
- And more.
- The American Anti-Slavery Society, the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society, and other organizations fight slavery.
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape harsh living conditions in their home countries. They required daring and cunning in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters’ possession. Southerners were extremely resentful of people in the North who helped the slaves in their plight. They invented the name “Underground Railroad” to refer to a well-organized network dedicated to keeping slaves away from their masters, which occasionally extended as far as crossing the Canadian border.
In 1850, Congress created the Fugitive Slave Law, which imposed severe fines on anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee.
Underground Railroad “Stations” Develop in Iowa
Iowa shares a southern border with Missouri, which was a slave state during the American Civil War. The abolitionist movement (those who desired to abolish slavery) built a system of “stations” in the 1840s and 1850s that could transport runaways from the Mississippi River to Illinois on their route to freedom. Activists from two religious movements, the Congregationalists and the Quakers, played crucial roles in the abolitionist movement. They were also involved in the Underground Railroad’s operations in the state of New York.
- According to one source, there are more than 100 Iowans who are participating in the endeavor.
- The Hitchcock House, located in Cass County near Lewis, is another well-known destination on the Underground Railroad in one form or another.
- George Hitchcock escorted “passengers” to the next destination on his route.
- Several of these locations are now public museums that are available to the general public.
- Individual families also reacted when they were approached for assistance.
- When the Civil War broke out and the Fugitive Slave Law could no longer be enforced in the northern states, a large number of slaves fled into the state and eventually settled there permanently.
Iowa became the first state to offer black males the right to vote in 1868. It was determined that segregated schools and discrimination in public accommodations were both unconstitutional in Iowa by the Supreme Court.
Iowa: A Free State Willing to Let Slavery Exist
Slavery has been a contentious topic in the United States since its inception, and it continues to be so today. As new states entered the Union, the early fights did not revolve over slavery in the South but rather its expansion. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 created an east-west line along the southern boundary of Missouri, which would remain in place for the rest of time, separating free and slave settlement. States to the south may legalize slavery, whilst states to the north (with the exception of slave state Missouri) were prohibited from doing so.
- The majority of Iowans were ready to allow slavery to continue in the South.
- They enacted legislation in an attempt to deter black people from settling in the state.
- Iowa did have a tiny community of abolitionists who believed that slavery was a moral wrong that should be abolished everywhere.
- This increased the likelihood that Nebraska, which borders Iowa on its western border, would become a slave state.
- The Republican Party has evolved as a staunch opponent of any future expansion of slavery into western areas in the United States.
- $200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- “Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Print, 1850 (Image)
- Fugitive Slave Law, 1850 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Do
How did runaway slaves rely on the help of abolitionists to escape to freedom?
- Article from the Anti-Slavery Bugle titled “William and Ellen Craft,” published on February 23, 1849 (Document)
- Anti-Slavery Bugle Article titled “Underground Railroad,” published on September 16, 1854 (Document)
- “A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article published on November 8, 1855 (Document)
- William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, circa 1890 (Image)
How did some runaway slaves create their own opportunities to escape?
- A newspaper article entitled “The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry Box Brown” published on June 23, 1849 (Document)
- The Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, published in 1850 (Image, Document)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” illustration published in 1850 (Image)
- Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” published on June 14, 1862 (Do
$200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847
After escaping enslavement, many people depended on northern whites to guide them securely to the northern free states and eventually to Canadian territory. For someone who had previously been forced into slavery, life may be quite perilous. There were incentives for capturing them, as well as adverts such as the one seen below for a prize. More information may be found here.
“Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Illustration, 1850
Written in strong opposition to the Runaway Slave Act, which was approved by Congress in September 1850 and expanded federal and free-state duty for the return of fugitive slaves, this letter is full of anger. The bill called for the appointment of federal commissioners who would have the authority to enact regulations. More information may be found here.
Fugitive Slave Law, 1850
As a result of the Fleeing Slave Law of 1850, it became unlawful for anybody in the northern United States to aid fugitive slaves in their quest for freedom. This statute supplemented the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act with additional clauses addressing runaways, and it imposed even harsher sanctions for interfering with their escape. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “William and Ellen Craft,” February 23, 1849
In this article from the abolitionist journal, The Anti-Slavery Bugle, the narrative of Ellen and William Craft’s emancipation from slavery is described in detail.
Ellen disguised herself as a male in order to pass as the master, while her husband, William, claimed to be her servant as they made their way out of the building. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “Underground Railroad,” September 16, 1854
The Anti-Slavery Bugle article indicates the number of runaway slaves in northern cities in 1854, based on a survey conducted by the organization. This group contained nine slaves from Boone County, Kentucky, who were seeking refuge in the United States. Their captors were said to be on the lookout for them in Cincinnati, and they were found. More information may be found here.
“A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article, November 8, 1855
This newspaper story was written in Fayettville, Tennessee, in 1855 and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a priest in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article details his ordeal in detail. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting escaped slaves on their way to freedom. More information may be found here.
William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, 1890
It was published in the Fayetteville, Tennessee, newspaper in 1855, and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a clergyman in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article tells what happened. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting fugitive slaves on their way out of the country. More information may be found at.
“Fugitive Slave Case Was Tried” – A Daily Gate City Article, April 13, 1915
This story, which was published in the Keokuk, Iowa, newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915, is about a trial that took place in Burlington in 1850. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had fled from Missouri and had worked for him as slaves. More information may be found here.
“The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” Article, June 23, 1849
It was published in the Keokuk, Iowa newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915 and is about a trial that took place in Burlington, Iowa, in 1850 and was published in The Daily Gate City. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had escaped from Missouri and had been working for him. More information may be found at.
Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, 1850
Image of the engraving on the box that Henry “Box” Brown built and used to send himself to freedom in Virginia. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. There is a label on the box that says “Right side up with care.” During his first appearance out of the box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the attached song, Henry “Box” Brown sang a song that is included here. More information may be found here.
“The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” Illustration, 1850
Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped from Richmond, Virginia, in a box measuring three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two and a half feet broad, is depicted in a somewhat comical but sympathetic manner in this artwork. In the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s administrative offices. More information may be found here.
Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” June 14, 1862
The escape of Robert Smalls and other members of his family and friends from slavery was chronicled in detail in an article published in Harper’s Weekly. Smalls was an enslaved African American who acquired freedom during and after the American Civil War and went on to work as a ship’s pilot on the high seas. More information may be found here.
“A Bold Stroke for Freedom” Illustration, 1872
The image from 1872 depicts African Americans, most likely fleeing slaves, standing in front of a wagon and brandishing firearms towards slave-catchers.
A group of young enslaved persons who had escaped from Loudon by wagon are said to be shown in the cartoon on Christmas Eve in 1855, when patrollers caught up with them. More information may be found here.
- Harriet Tubman Day is observed annually on March 31. The statement issued by the State of Delaware on the observance of Harriet Ross Tubman Day on March 10, 2017 may be seen on the website. Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long both signed the statement. Harriet Tubman – A Guide to Online Resources A wide range of material linked with Harriet Tubman may be found in these digital collections from the Library of Congress, which include manuscripts, pictures, and publications. It is the goal of this guide to consolidate connections to digital materials about Harriet Tubman that are available throughout the Library of Congress website. Scenes from Harriet Tubman’s Life and Times The website, which is accessible through the Digital Public Library of America, contains portions from the novel Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, written by Sarah Bradford in 1869 and published by the American Library Association.
Maryland’s Pathways to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in the State of Maryland On this page, you can find primary materials pertaining to Maryland and the Underground Railroad. This includes information from three former slaves, Samuel Green, Phoebe Myers, and their descendants today. “The Underground Railroad: A Secret History” by Eric Foner is a book on the history of the Underground Railroad. Among the topics covered in this piece from The Atlantic is the Underground Railroad’s “secret history,” which includes the reality that the network was not nearly as covert as many people believed.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (8th Grade)
The content anchor requirements for Iowa Core Social Studies that are most accurately reflected in this source collection are listed below. The subject requirements that have been implemented to this set are appropriate for middle school pupils and cover the major areas that make up social studies for eighth grade students in the United States.
- S.8.13.Explain the rights and obligations of people, political parties, and the media in the context of a range of governmental and nonprofit organizations and institutions. (Skills for the twenty-first century)
- SS.8.19.Explain how immigration and migration were influenced by push and pull influences in early American history. SS.8.21.Examine the relationships and linkages between early American historical events and developments in the context of wider historical settings
- In your explanation of how and why prevalent social, cultural, and political viewpoints altered over early American history, please include the following information: SS.8.23.Explain the numerous causes, impacts, and changes that occurred in early American history
- And The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the Monroe Doctrine, the Indian Removal Act, the Missouri Compromise, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo are examples of primary and secondary sources of information that should be critiqued with consideration for the source of the document, its context, accuracy, and usefulness.