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.
The Underground Railroad | National Geographic Society
- During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally. It was not an actual railroad, but it served the same purpose—it transported people long distances.
What was the Underground Railroad and its purpose?
The Underground Railroad refers to the effort –sometimes spontaneous, sometimes highly organized — to assist persons held in bondage in North America to escape from slavery.
Was there an Underground Railroad during slavery?
During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally.
What was the Underground Railroad for dummies?
The Underground Railroad was a term used for a network of people, homes, and hideouts that slaves in the southern United States used to escape to freedom in the Northern United States and Canada.
What did the Underground Railroad accomplish?
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.
Who built the Underground Railroad?
In the early 1800s, Quaker abolitionist Isaac T. Hopper set up a network in Philadelphia that helped enslaved people on the run.
How many slaves died trying to escape?
At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
Was Underground Railroad a train?
Nope! Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a railroad in the way Amtrak or commuter rail is. It wasn’t even a real railroad. It was a metaphoric one, where “conductors,” that is basically escaped slaves and intrepid abolitionists, would lead runaway slaves from one “station,” or save house to the next.
How did slaves know where to go in the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was a secret system developed to aid fugitive slaves on their escape to freedom. The safe houses used as hiding places along the lines of the Underground Railroad were called stations. A lit lantern hung outside would identify these stations.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
How did Underground Railroad lead to civil war?
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 happened in the Underground Railroad?
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 did slaves do after they escaped?
Most large plantations in the South, however, had slaves who escaped. Slaves’ resistance to captivity took many forms, such as performing careless work, destroying property, or faking illness. Many enslaved persons who were able chose escape, however. Some tried to rejoin family members living on a nearby properties.
What is the Underground Railroad described in textbooks? Read the following passages from American History textbooks with care, and then respond to the questions that follow them. Is it possible to discern patterns in the many different depictions of the Underground Railroad? 1. The Underground Railroad is defined in what way by textbooks. Three: Which personalities or episodes are they most fond of bringing up in conversation? 4. What are their thoughts on the scope and timeline of Underground Railroad operations?
The Underground Railroad: Ten Essential Textbooks The American Spirit, 9th ed., Vol.1 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998), 403-404.
Bailey and David M.
- 1 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998), 403-404.
- A new and more rigorous runaway slave statute was demanded by southerners by 1850.
- In contrast to cattle thieves, the abolitionists who conducted the Underground Railroad did not individually benefit from their criminality.
- Compared to plain robbery, the abolitionists’ moral judgements were, in some ways, even more galling.
- From a total population of over 4 million slaves in 1850, it is estimated that the South lost approximately 1,000 runaways every year.
- The slavemasters, on the other hand, placed a high value on the principle.
- However, according to a southern senator, while the loss of property is felt, the loss of honor is felt even more keenly.
In the early 1800s, there were a number of minor uprisings.
The slave revolts prompted southern governments to enact harsher slave laws, which further restricted slaves’ ability to engage in commercial activity.
In the North, some slaves managed to elude capture and seek freedom.
Slave who has gotten away On the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman was the most well-known and accomplished conductor.
As she put it, I had a legal right to one of just two things.
If I couldn’t have one, I’d take the other.
Bragdon, Samuel Proctor McCutchen, and Donald A.
343 In addition to Douglass, who was self-educated and had been enslaved, Frederick Douglass was the editor of The North Star, an abolitionist newspaper published in New York City.
This covert abolitionist network, which had hiding sites, or stations, across the Northern states and even into Canada, was responsible for transporting enslaved individuals out of the South and ensuring their freedom as a result of the Underground Railroad movement.
Besides caring for African Americans who had arrived in the North, they also risked their lives to travel into the slave states and free those who were still slaves.
After escaping, she returned to the South on many occasions, releasing more than 300 enslaved persons in the process of doing so.
312, 340 in Alan Brinkley’s American History: A Survey, Eleventh Edition (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2003).
Black people sought to resist by fleeing the scene.
However, the chances of making a successful escape, particularly from the Deep South, were extremely slim to nonexistent.
Consequently, from 1840 onward, abolitionism circulated via a variety of channels and spoke in a variety of tones and dialects.
Others took a more moderate approach, thinking that abolition could only be achieved through a protracted, patient, and peaceful fight – instant abolition gradually completed, as they put it.
They would make an appeal to the slaveholders’ consciences, persuading them that their system was wrong and wicked.
Runaway slaves were assisted by the Garrisonians in escaping to the North or Canada via the so-called underground railroad, which was established in the 1860s (although their efforts were never as highly organized as the terms suggests).
Underground Railroad was established by abolitionists.
Runaways were escorted to stations where they might spend the night by station conductors.
Another type of structure was a church or a cave.
Harriet Tubman, for example, was a fearless conductor who had escaped from slavery.
She was responsible for the emancipation of more than 300 slaves, among them her own family.
For her capture, her slave owners offered a reward of $40,000 in cash.
Divine and colleagues’ The American Story, 3rd edition (New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007).
After laying in wait outside the plantation for a period of time, most fugitives were apprehended and returned to the farm after securing immunity from prosecution.
A few light-skinned blacks have been successful in smuggling themselves into freedom.
Flight, on the other hand, was not an option for the majority of slaves.
More than merely voicing their opposition to racial injustice, freeblacks in the North took action.
Freedom fighters such as Harriet Tubman and Josiah Henson made regular incursions into slave states in order to aid other blacks in their quest for liberation, and many of the stations along the road were operated by free blacks.
In certain cases, groups of blacks have used force to rescue detained fugitives from the hands of law enforcement officials.
Nash and colleagues, in The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society, 4th edition (New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1998), p.
Escape routes were numerous and varied: forging passes, masquerading as master and servant, concealing one’s sexuality, slipping aboard ships, and professing devotion until one was captured and brought away on a journey to the north by the master.
Running parallel to the Underground Railroad was an underground network of safe homes and stations where escaped slaves could stop, eat, and sleep before continuing their journey.
Exactly how many slaves fled to the North and Canada is unknown, although it is believed to have been a very small number.
Nightly patrols by white militiamen, a significant element of southern life at the time, lowered the possibilities of any slave escaping and, in many cases, discouraged slaves from ever attempting to flee the plantation.
1 to 1877, 2nd edition (Boston, MA: Bedford / St.
382; James L.
1 to 1877 (Boston, MA: Bedford / St.
382; James L.
Following her successful escape from Maryland slavery in 1849, Harriet Tubman bravely returned to the South to transport slaves to freedom, risking her life on several occasions.
As a result of antislavery feeling and hostility to white supremacy that united practically all African Americans in the North, this “underground railroad” passed mostly via black neighborhoods, black churches, and black houses.
In America: A Narrative History, Sixth Edition (New York: W.
Norton & Company, 2004), page 605, George Brown Tindall and David E.
While many escapees managed to make it out on their own – Douglass obtained a ticket from a free black seaman – the Underground Railroad, which expanded into a large network of tunnels and smugglers that transported runaways to freedom, frequently over the Canadian border, was a major contributor.
- Coffin’s alleged presidency was held by Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina who relocated to Cincinnati and assisted numerous fugitives.
- A handful of courageous exiles actually returned to slave republics in order to help arrange escapes from the oppressive regimes.
- Victory of the American Nation, by Lewis Paul Todd and Merle Curti (Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1986), 379-80.
- It was neither underground nor a railroad, but it was given this name because its actions were carried out in the dark and in disguise, and because it utilized railroad phrases as code words in order to conceal its identity.
- The railroad’s mission consisted in hiding fugitive slaves and providing them with food, clothes, and directions to the next stop, among other things.
- Harriet Tubman, a former slave who had fled to freedom through the railroad, was the most daring conductor of the time.
- A total of 40,000 to 100,000 slaves are believed to have benefited from the Underground Railroad’s efforts.
Guide for the Teacher What is the Underground Railroad described in textbooks?
Despite the lack of concrete proof, textbook editors are concerned about appearing too critical of an institution that has become part of national legend.
When you read the final product, it is disappointing and challenging to teach.
They deserve to know more than just about codes, safe houses, and a heroic lady conductor named Tubman; they deserve to know everything.
There are an average of 180 words on the Underground Railroad in each textbook, according to the American Library Association.
No matter how much more material is included on topics such as abolitionists or the Fugitive Slave Law, the amount of space allocated to the subject rarely surpasses a few pages.
According to eight out of 10 history textbooks, Harriet Tubman is the most heroic figure in the history of the Underground Railroad.
In all, only five historical persons other than Tubman are mentioned in the textbooks: Levi Coffin (once), Frederick Douglass (twice), Josiah Henson (once), and Nat Turner (once) (once).
The names of major players such as Lewis Hayden (Boston Vigilance Committee), David Ruggles (New York Vigilance Committee), and William Still (New York Vigilance Committee) are not included in any of the texts (Philadelphia Vigilance Committee).
After conducting this research, the House Divided Underground Railroad Digital Classroom developed its own description of the Underground Railroad.
However, while secrecy was frequently required for specific operations, the overall movement to assist fugitives was not kept under wraps at all.
State personal liberty statutes, which were intended to protect free black people against kidnapping, were invoked by these agents as a justification for their fugitive assistance efforts.
These committees frequently collaborated and offered legal, financial, and, in some cases, physical security to any black person who was endangered by kidnappers or slave-catchers in the region.
Thousands of additional individuals, most of whom were driven by religious conviction, assisted fugitives in less organized but nonetheless courageously defiant ways throughout the decades leading up to the American Civil War.
In part, it was for this reason that Harriet Tubman, who herself had been an escaped slave, was such an inspiring figure.
Despite the fact that Underground Railroad agents such as Tubman freed only a fraction of the nation’s slaves (probably no more than a few hundred each year out of a total enslaved population of millions), their actions infuriated southern political leaders, exacerbated the sectional crisis of the 1850s, and ultimately contributed to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the United States.
What is the most accurate way to describe the Underground Railroad in textbooks? Read the following passages from American History textbooks carefully, and then respond to the following questions: Is it possible to discern patterns in the many different depictions of the Underground Railroad? 2. How does the Underground Railroad appear to be defined in textbooks? 3. Which individuals or episodes do they tend to draw attention to the most? 4. What do they have to say about the scope and timeline of Underground Railroad operations?
- Which keywords, such as network or safe houses, are most frequently used, and what significance does this have?
- The Underground Railroad: Ten Textbooks on the Underground Railroad The American Spirit, 9th ed., Vol.1 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998), 403-404.
- Bailey and David M.
- 1 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998), 403-404.
- By 1850, southerners were calling for a new and more stringent fugitive-slave law that was more in line with their beliefs.
- Abolitionists who ran the Underground Railroad, unlike cattle thieves, did not benefit personally from their lawlessness.
- In some ways, the moral judgments of the abolitionists were even more galling than outright stealing.
Estimates suggest that the South was losing approximately 1,000 runaways per year in 1850, out of a total population of approximately 4 million slaves.
However, the principle weighed heavily in the favor of the slavemasters.
According to a southern senator, the loss of property is felt, but the loss of honor is felt even more so.
In the early 1800s, there were a number of small uprisings across the country.
Turner and his followers were responsible for the deaths of approximately 60 white people before they were apprehended.
Other methods of protest included interfering with the plantation’s daily operations by impersonating illness or working slowly.
The Underground Railroad, a network of white and African American people who assisted escaped slaves in their journey to the North, provided assistance.
She made at least 19 voyages and transported more than 300 slaves to freedom during her time on the run.
Liberty or death: if I couldn’t have one, I’d accept the other, because no one would ever steal my life.
Bragdon, Samuel Proctor McCutchen, and Donald A.
The Underground Railroad was intended to be referenced in the title, which was chosen to do so.
Moving at night, the agents of the Underground Railroad had only Polaris, the fixed star in the Northern skies, to guide them.
Harriet Tubman, the Black Moses, was one of the most successful agents, despite the fact that she was born into slavery.
Despite a $40,000 reward offered for her capture, Tubman managed to evade capture.
Resistance to slavery, on the other hand, took on a variety of other, less drastic guises for the most part.
A small number of people were able to flee to the north or to Canada, particularly after sympathetic whites began organizing the so-called underground railroad to aid them in their flight from the United States.
The dangers of distance and the slaves’ lack of understanding of geography were significant obstacles.
With their uncompromising moral stance, the Garrisonians were able to maintain their influence.
They would make an appeal to the slaveholders’ consciences and persuade them that their institution was wrong.
They teamed up with the Garrisonians to assist runaway slaves in escaping to the North or Canada via the so-called underground railroad (although their efforts were never as highly organized as the terms suggests).
The Underground Railroad was founded by abolitionists.
Runaways were guided to stations where they could spend the night by conductors.
Others were religious structures such as churches or even caves.
Harriet Tubman, one of the bravest conductors, had escaped from slavery herself.
She was responsible for the liberation of more than 300 slaves, including her own parents.
Slave owners offered a $40,000 reward for her capture if she was apprehended.
1 (New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007), pages 288 and 323 Thousands of slaves escaped to express their dissatisfaction with their conditions and desire for freedom.
However, many escapees were able to remain free for years by hiding in swamps or other remote areas, and a small number managed to flee to the North or Mexico by stowing away on ships or traveling hundreds of miles overland.
Many fugitives were assisted in their journey north by the Underground Railroad, an informal network of sympathetic free blacks (as well as a few whites).
Either they lived too far south to have a chance of reaching free soil, or they were unwilling to abandon their families and friends in order to do so.
They were also the primary conductors of the fabled Underground Railroad, which provided a safe haven for fugitives fleeing slavery in the United States.
Free blacks organized vigilance committees in northern towns and cities to protect fugitives and thwart slave-catchers.
Escape routes were numerous and varied: forging passes, appearing as master and servant, concealing one’s sexuality, slipping aboard ships, and professing allegiance until one was captured and brought away on a journey to the North.
This network of safe homes and stations, arranged by abolitionists, allowed fugitive slaves to stop, eat, and spend the night before continuing their journey.
It is impossible to estimate how many slaves really fled to the northern United States and Canada, but the numbers were not insignificant.
Nightly patrols by white militiamen, a significant element of southern life at the time, lowered the possibilities of any slave escaping and, in many cases, discouraged blacks from ever attempting to flee.
1 to 1877, 2nd edition (Boston, MA: Bedford / St.
382 (James L.
1 to 1877, 2nd edition (Boston, MA: Bedford / St.
382 (James L.
Free African Americans in the North and West made significant contributions to the antislavery movement by covertly assisting escaped slaves.
Tubman’s bravery was unparalleled, but when the chance presented itself, free blacks in the North stepped in to supply escaped slaves with food, a secure place to stay, and a helping hand.
Meanwhile, millions of other Americans uprooted their families and traveled west, while a few fortunate southern slaves travelled the Underground Railroad to freedom in the North.
Shi (New York: W.
Norton & Company, 2004), page 605.
Levi Coffin, a North Carolina Quaker who relocated to Cincinnati and assisted numerous fugitives, was widely regarded as the country’s first president.
A handful of courageous exiles actually returned to slave nations in order to coordinate escapes.
379-380 in Lewis Paul Todd and Merle Curti’s Triumph of the American Nation (Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1986).
It was neither underground nor a railroad, but it was given this name because its actions were carried out in the dark and in concealment, and because it employed railroad phrases as code words.
The railroad’s mission consisted in sheltering fugitive slaves and providing them with food, clothes, and directions to the next stop.
Harriet Tubman, a former slave who had fled to freedom through the railroad, was the most daring conductor.
A total of 40,000 to 100,000 slaves are believed to have benefited from the Underground Railroad’s services.
Teacher’s Manual What is the most accurate way to describe the Underground Railroad in textbooks?
Textbook editors are concerned about the lack of concrete proof, but they are also concerned about seeming overly critical of an institution that has become part of national mythology.
The outcome is a text that is frustrating to read and challenging to teach.
They deserve to know more than just about codes, safe rooms, and a heroic lady conductor named Tubman; they deserve much more.
The Underground Railroad is covered in around 180 words per textbook on average.
No matter how much more material is included on themes such as abolitionists or the Fugitive Slave Law, the amount of space allocated to the subject rarely surpasses a few pages.
Eight out of ten history textbooks name Harriet Tubman as the most courageous member of the Underground Railroad.
Other than Tubman, all of the textbooks mention only five historical figures: Levi Coffin (once), Frederick Douglass (twice), Josiah Henson (once), and Nat Turner (once) (once).
The names of major persons such as Lewis Hayden (of the Boston Vigilance Committee), David Ruggles (of the New York Vigilance Committee), and William Still are not included in any of the textbooks (Philadelphia Vigilance Committee).
In light of this study, the House Divided Underground Railroad Digital Classroom has produced its own definition of the Underground Railroad.
While concealment was frequently required for specific activities, the broad movement to assist fugitives was seldom kept under wraps.
State personal liberty statutes, which were intended to protect free black people against kidnapping, were invoked by these officers as a justification for their fugitive aid activities.
These committees frequently collaborated and provided legal, financial, and, in some cases, physical security to any black person who was threatened by kidnappers or slave-catchers.
Thousands of additional individuals, most of whom were inspired by religious belief, assisted fugitives in less methodical but nonetheless courageously defiant ways throughout the decades leading up to the American Civil War.
This is one of the reasons why Harriet Tubman, herself an escaped slave, was such a heroic character.
Tubman and her colleagues freed only a fraction of the nation’s slaves (possibly no more than a few hundred each year out of an enslaved population numbering in the millions), but their actions enraged southern political leaders, escalated the sectional crisis of the 1850s, and ultimately contributed to the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the United States.
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.
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.
In many cases, Fugitive Slave Acts were the driving force behind their departure. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved persons from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the runaway slaves. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in several northern states to oppose this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. Aiming to improve on the previous legislation, which southern states believed was being enforced insufficiently, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed.
It was still considered a risk for an escaped individual to travel to the northern states.
In Canada, some Underground Railroad operators established bases of operations and sought to assist fugitives in settling into their new home country.
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major factor in many fugitive slaves’ decision to flee to Canada. The first act, passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and deport escaped enslaved persons from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fugitives. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain Northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. Aiming to improve on the previous legislation, which southern states believed was being enforced insufficiently, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was drafted.
The northern states were still considered a danger for someone who had escaped.
Some Underground Railroad operators set up shop in Canada and sought to assist fugitives once they arrived in the country.
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.
Finally, they were able to make their way closer to him. Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
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. The New Yorker is a publication dedicated to journalism.
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?
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The Underground Railroad
At the time of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to flee to freedom in the northern states.
Subjects History of the United States, Social StudiesImage
Home of Levi Coffin
Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist. This was a station on the Underground Railroad, a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in escaping to the North during the Civil War. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography. “> During the age of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the North, according to the Underground Railroad Museum.
Although it was not a real railroad, it fulfilled the same function as one: it carried passengers across large distances.
The people who worked for the Underground Railroad were driven by a passion for justice and a desire to see slavery abolished—a drive that was so strong that they risked their lives and jeopardized their own freedom in order to assist enslaved people in escaping from bondage and staying safe while traveling the Underground Railroad.
- As the network expanded, the railroad metaphor became more prevalent.
- In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as part of a larger organization.
- According to historical tales of the railroad, conductors frequently pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways out of plantation prisons and train stations.
- Often, the conductors and passengers traveled 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance in this day and age.
- Patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were usually on their tails, chasing them down.
- Historians who study the railroad, on the other hand, find it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
- Eric Foner is one of the historians that belongs to this group.
- Despite this, the Underground Railroad was at the center of the abolitionist struggle during the nineteenth century.
- Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist.
- Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography.
- Person who is owned by another person or group of people is referred to as an enslaved person.
Slavery is a noun that refers to the act of owning another human being or being owned by another human being (also known as servitude). Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to flee to free states.
Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and an abolitionist. As a halt on the Underground Railroad, his home served as an important link in the emancipation of slaves from the South to the United States’ northern climes. Cincinnati Museum Center took the photographs. “> While slavery was in effect, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the northern hemisphere during that time period.
However, even though it was not a genuine railroad, it fulfilled a similar function: it moved people across large distances.
Many of the people who worked on the Underground Railroad were motivated by a desire for justice and a desire to see slavery put out of business—a motivation that was so strong that they were willing to risk their lives and their own freedom in order to aid enslaved individuals in their escape from bondage and to keep them safe along their journey.
- The train metaphor became more and more prevalent as the network increased in size and complexity.
- It was known to as “stations” where the runaways were housed, while “station masters” were those who were in charge of concealing the captives.
- In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as members of a larger organization.
- It has been said that conductors regularly pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways off of plantations during the early days of the railroad.
- Often, the conductors and passengers went 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance for them.
- On a regular basis, patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were hard on their tails.
- Truth and fiction are difficult to distinguish in the minds of historians who study the railroad.
Instead, they argue that much of the action took place openly and in broad daylight.
He went back into the history of the railroad and discovered that, while a massive network existed that kept its actions hidden, the network grew so powerful that it was able to push the myth’s boundaries even farther.
It was the railroad that intensified racial tensions between northern and southern states and hence helped to precipitate the Civil War.
As a halt on the Underground Railroad, his home served as an important link in the emancipation of slaves from the South to the United States’ northern climes.
Civil WarNoun(1860-1865) An American struggle between the Union (north) and the Confederacy (south).
Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to escape to free territories.
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Gina Borgia is a member of the National Geographic Society. Jeanna Sullivan is a member of the National Geographic Society.
According to National Geographic Society’s Sarah Appleton, Margot Willis is a National Geographic Society photographer.
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The Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals – many whites but predominently black – who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. Still, it effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year – according to one estimate,the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850. An organized system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes.” The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed “The Underground Railroad,” after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called “stations” and “depots” and were run by “stationmasters,” those who contributed money or goods were “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.For the slave, running away to the North was anything but easy. The first step was to escape from the slaveholder. For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources. Sometimes a “conductor,” posing as a slave, would enter a plantation and then guide the runaways northward. The fugitives would move at night. They would generally travel between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, hiding in barns and other out-of-the-way places. While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its stationmaster.The fugitives would also travel by train and boat – conveyances that sometimes had to be paid for. Money was also needed to improve the appearance of the runaways – a black man, woman, or child in tattered clothes would invariably attract suspicious eyes. This money was donated by individuals and also raised by various groups, including vigilance committees.Vigilance committees sprang up in the larger towns and cities of the North, most prominently in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. In addition to soliciting money, the organizations provided food, lodging and money, and helped the fugitives settle into a community by helping them find jobs and providing letters of recommendation.The Underground Railroad had many notable participants, including John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.|
When describing a network of meeting spots, hidden routes, passages, and safehouses used by slaves in the United States to escape slave-holding states and seek refuge in northern states and Canada, the Underground Railroad was referred to as the Underground Railroad (UR). The underground railroad, which was established in the early 1800s and sponsored by persons active in the Abolitionist Movement, assisted thousands of slaves in their attempts to escape bondage. Between 1810 and 1850, it is estimated that 100,000 slaves escaped from bondage in the southern United States.
Facts, information and articles about the Underground Railroad
Aproximate year of birth: 1780
The beginnings of the American Civil War occurred around the year 1862.
The commencement of the American Civil War occurred around 1862.
Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. William Still is a well-known author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin. John Fairfield is a well-known author.
The Story of How Canada Became the Final Station on the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and a Spion is well documented.
The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad
Even before the nineteenth century, it appears that a mechanism to assist runaways existed. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his escaped slaves by “a organization of Quakers, founded for such purposes.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge. Their influence may have played a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, which was home to a large number of Quakers.
In recognition of his contributions, Levi is often referred to as the “president of the Underground Railroad.” In Fountain City, Ohio, on Ohio’s western border, the eight-room Indiana home they bought and used as a “station” before they came to Cincinnati has been preserved and is now a National Historic Landmark.
“Eliza” was one of the slaves who hid within it, and her narrative served as the inspiration for the character of the same name in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
Owen Brown, the father of radical abolitionist John Brown, was a member of the Underground Railroad in the state of New York during the Civil War. An unconfirmed narrative suggests that “Mammy Sally” designated the house where Abraham Lincoln’s future wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, grew up and served as a safe house where fugitives could receive food, but the account is doubtful. Routes of the Underground Railroad It was not until the early 1830s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was first used.
Fugitives going by water or on genuine trains were occasionally provided with clothing so that they wouldn’t give themselves away by wearing their worn-out job attire.
Many of them continued on to Canada, where they could not be lawfully reclaimed by their rightful owners.
The slave or slaves were forced to flee from their masters, which was frequently done at night.
Conductors On The Railroad
A “conductor,” who pretended to be a slave, would sometimes accompany fugitives to a plantation in order to lead them on their journey. Harriet Tubman, a former slave who traveled to slave states 19 times and liberated more than 300 people, is one of the most well-known “conductors.” She used her shotgun to threaten death to any captives who lost heart and sought to return to slavery. The Underground Railroad’s operators faced their own set of risks as well. If someone living in the North was convicted of assisting fugitives in their escape, he or she could face fines of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, which was a significant sum at the time; however, in areas where abolitionism was strong, the “secret” railroad was openly operated, and no one was arrested.
His position as the most significant commander of the Underground Railroad in and around Albany grew as time went on.
However, in previous times of American history, the phrase “vigilance committee” generally refers to citizen organizations that took the law into their own hands, prosecuting and hanging those suspected of crimes when there was no local government or when they considered the local authority was corrupt or weak.
White males who were found assisting slaves in their escape were subjected to heavier punishments than white women, but both were likely to face at the very least incarceration.
The most severe punishments, such as hundreds of lashing with a whip, burning, or hanging, were reserved for any blacks who were discovered in the process of assisting fugitive fugitives on the loose.
The Civil War On The Horizon
Events such as the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott decision compelled more anti-slavery activists to take an active part in the effort to liberate slaves in the United States. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Southern states began to secede in December 1860, putting an end to the Union’s hopes of achieving independence from the United States. Abolitionist newspapers and even some loud abolitionists warned against giving the remaining Southern states an excuse to separate. Lucia Bagbe (later known as Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson) is considered to be the final slave who was returned to bondage as a result of the Fugitive Slave Law.
Her owner hunted her down and arrested her in December 1860.
Even the Cleveland Leader, a Republican weekly that was traditionally anti-slavery and pro-the Fugitive Slave Legislation, warned its readers that allowing the law to run its course “may be oil thrown upon the seas of our nation’s difficulties,” according to the newspaper.
In her honor, a Grand Jubilee was celebrated on May 6, 1863, in the city of Cleveland.
The Reverse Underground Railroad
A “reverse Underground Railroad” arose in the northern states surrounding the Ohio River during the Civil War. The black men and women of those states, whether or not they had previously been slaves, were occasionally kidnapped and concealed in homes, barns, and other structures until they could be transported to the South and sold as slaves.
Underground Railroad – Ohio History Central
According to Ohio History Central This snapshot depicts the “Freedom Stairway,” which consists of one hundred stairs going from the Ohio River to the John Rankin House in Ripley, which served as a station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Presbyterian clergyman and educator John Rankin (1793-1886) spent most of his time working for the abolitionist anti-slavery struggle. The home features various secret rooms, some of which were used to hide freedom fighters. An illuminated sign was erected in front of the home to signal that it was safe for anyone seeking freedom to approach it.
- An underground railroad system of safe homes and hiding places that assisted freedom seekers on their journeys to freedom in Canada, Mexico, and other countries outside of the United States was known as the Underground Railroad (UR).
- Although it is unknown when the Underground Railroad had its start, members of the Society of Friends, often known as the Quakers, were actively supporting freedom seekers as early as the 1780s, according to historical records.
- As early as the late 1700s, slavery was outlawed in the vast majority of Northern states.
- African Americans were forced to flee the United States in order to genuinely achieve their freedom.
- Despite the fact that slavery was outlawed in Ohio, some individuals were still opposed to the abolition of the institution.
- Many of these individuals were adamantly opposed to the Underground Railroad.
- Other people attempted to restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners in the aim of receiving prizes for their efforts.
Over three thousand slaves were rescued from their captors and granted freedom in Canada thanks to the efforts of Levi Coffin, a Cincinnati man who lived in the late 1840s and early 1850s.
His house was perched on a three hundred-foot-high hill with a panoramic view of the Ohio River.
He gave the freedom seekers with sanctuary and kept them hidden until it was safe for them to proceed farther north in their quest for independence.
These individuals, as well as a large number of others, put their lives in danger to aid African Americans in their journey to freedom.
They typically chose to live in communities where there were other African Americans.
A total of eight communities along the Lake Erie shoreline served as embarkation locations for the freedom seekers’ journey to Canada, including Ashtabula, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Huron, Lorain, Conneaut, and Conneaut.
It is still unknown exactly how the Underground Railroad came to be known by that moniker.
In 1831, a freedom seeker called Tice Davids fled from his slave owners in Kentucky, where he had been held since birth.
Davids had arrived at the coast only a few minutes before him. Following the arrival of his boat, the holder was unable to locate Davids and concluded that he “must have gone off on a subterranean path.”
- “The Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad,” by Charles L. Blockson, et al. Hippocrene Books, New York, NY, 1994
- Levi Coffin, Hippocrene Books, New York, NY, 1994. Levi Coffin’s recollections of his time as the rumored President of the Underground Railroad. Arno Press, New York, NY, 1968
- Dee, Christine, ed., Ohio’s War: The Civil War in Documents, New York, NY, 1968. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007)
- Fess, Simeon D., ed. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007). Gara, Larry, and Lewis Publishing Company, 1937
- Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Company. The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad is a documentary film about the Underground Railroad. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1961
- Ann Hagedorn, ed., Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1961. Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad is a book about the heroes of the Underground Railroad. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
- Roseboom, Eugene H. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
- The period from 1850 to 1873 is known as the Civil War Era. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom (Columbus, OH: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1944)
- Siebert, Wibur H. “The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom.” RussellRussell, New York, 1898
- Siebert, Wilbur Henry, New York, 1898. Ohio was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Lesick, Lawrence Thomas
- Arthur W. McGraw, 1993
- McGraw, Arthur W. The Lane Rebels: Evangelicalism and Antislavery in Antebellum America is a book about the Lane family who were antislavery activists in the antebellum era. Roland M. Baumann’s book, The Scarecrow Press, was published in 1980 in Metuchen, NJ. The Rescue of the Oberlin-Wellington Train in 1858: A Reappraisal Oberlin, OH: Oberlin College Press, 2003
- Levi Coffin and William Still, editors. Fleeing for Freedom: Stories of the Underground Railroad is a collection of short stories about people fleeing for freedom. Ivan R. Dee Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, 2004.
The Underground Railroad (TV Series 2021– )
- Trivia The “Underground Railroad” as a train or as a railroad has never ever existed as a train or as a railroad. During the nineteenth century, a network of secret passageways and safe houses spread across the United States, assisting enslaved African Americans in their attempts to flee, particularly to the Northern United States and Canada
- This network was known as the Underground Railroad.
6 out of 10 There are a few bright points, but generally, it is an awful bore-fest. An tremendously powerful pilot episode, followed by a highly fascinating second episode, set the tone for the enormously well-received series from the outset. However, this is where the show’s attractiveness ends, and it gets preoccupied with terribly uninteresting white people as a result. I’ve dragged it out to episode 8 thus far, and I want to see the program through to the conclusion – however I believe it should have finished at Episode 2.
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The National Park Service (NPS) Through the Underground Railroad, Lewis Hayden was able to elude enslavement and later found work as a “conductor” from his home in Massachusetts. Speakers and organizers are required for any cause. Any mass movement requires the presence of visionary men and women. However, simply spreading knowledge and mobilizing people is not enough. It takes people who take action to bring about revolutionary change – individuals who chip away at the things that stand in the way, little by little, until they are victorious.
- Instead of sitting around and waiting for laws to change or slavery to come crashing down around them, railroad advocates assisted individual fleeing slaves in finding the light of freedom.
- Slaves were relocated from one “station” to another by abolitionists during the Civil War.
- In order to escape being apprehended, whites would frequently pose as the fugitives’ masters.
- In one particularly dramatic instance, Henry “Box” Brown arranged for a buddy to lock him up in a wooden box with only a few cookies and a bottle of water for company.
- This map of the eastern United States depicts some of the paths that slaves took on their way to freedom.
- The majority of the time, slaves traveled northward on their own, searching for the signal that indicated the location of the next safe haven.
- The railroad employed almost 3,200 individuals between the years 1830 and the conclusion of the Civil War, according to historical records.
Harriet Tubman was perhaps the most notable “conductor” of the Underground Railroad during her lifetime.
Tubman traveled into slave territory on a total of 19 distinct occasions throughout the 1850s.
Any slave who had second thoughts, she threatened to kill with the gun she kept on her hip at the risk of his life.
When the Civil War broke out, she put her railroad experience to use as a spy for the Union, which she did successfully for the Union.
This was even worse than their distaste of Abolitionist speech and literature, which was already bad enough.
According to them, this was a straightforward instance of stolen goods. Once again, a brick was laid in the building of Southern secession when Northern cities rallied with liberated slaves and refused to compensate them for their losses.
The Underground Railroad (1820-1861) •
The smuggling of fugitives during the winter season Charles T. Webber’s novel The Underground Railroad was published in 1893. Images that are in the public domain Underground Railroad was developed to assist oppressed persons in their journey from slavery to liberty. The railroad network was made up of dozens of hidden routes and safe houses that began in slaveholding states and extended all the way to the Canadian border, which was the only place where fugitives could be certain of their freedom.
- As part of the Underground Railroad, slaves were smuggled onto ships that transported them to ports in the northern United States or to countries outside of the United States.
- Though the number of persons who fled through the Underground Railroad between 1820 and 1861 varies greatly depending on who you ask, the most commonly accepted figure is roughly 100,000.
- The railroad employed conductors, among them William Still of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was likely the most well-known of the group.
- Slave-hiding spots were called stations, and stationmasters were individuals who hid slaves in their houses.
- The Underground Railroad functioned as a number of interconnected networks.
- Those responsible for leading the fugitive slaves north did so in stages.
- The “freight” would be transferred on to the next conductor once it reached another stop, and so on until the full journey had been completed.
When the Underground Railroad was successful, it engendered a great deal of hostility among slaveholders and their friends.
The law was misused to a tremendous extent.
Due to the fact that African Americans were not permitted to testify or have a jury present during a trial, they were frequently unable to defend themselves.
However, the Fugitive Slave Act had the opposite effect, increasing Northern opposition to slavery and hastening the Civil War.
A large number of those who escaped became human witnesses to the slave system, with many of them traveling on the lecture circuit to explain to Northerners what life was like as a slave in the slave system.
It was the success of the Underground Railroad in both situations that contributed to the abolition of slavery.
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Cite this article in APA format:
Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (2007, December 03). The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes (1820-1861). BlackPast.org.
Source of the author’s information:
“The Underground Railroad,” by William Still (Chicago, Johnson Publishing Company, 1970) Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 2004); J. Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2006); David W. Blight, Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books in association with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,
If you want to know what this country is all about, I always say, you have to ride the rails,” the train’s conductor tells Cora, the fictitious protagonist of Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novelThe Underground Railroad, as she walks into a boxcar destined for the North. As you race through, take a look about you to see the genuine face of America.” Cora’s vision is limited to “just blackness, mile after mile,” according to Whitehead, as she peers through the carriage’s slats. In the course of her traumatic escape from servitude, the adolescent eventually understands that the conductor’s remark was “a joke.
- Cora and Caesar, a young man enslaved on the same Georgia plantation as her, are on their way to liberation when they encounter a dark other world in which they use the railroad to go to freedom.
- ” The Underground Railroad,” a ten-part limited series premiering this week on Amazon Prime Video, is directed by Moonlight filmmaker Barry Jenkins and is based on the renowned novel by Alfred North Whitehead.
- When it comes to portraying slavery, Jenkins takes a similar approach to Whitehead’s in the series’ source material.
- “And as a result, I believe their individuality has been preserved,” Jenkins says Felix.
The consequences of their actions are being inflicted upon them.” Here’s all you need to know about the historical backdrop that informs both the novel and the streaming adaptation of “The Underground Railroad,” which will premiere on May 14th. (There will be spoilers for the novel ahead.)
Did Colson Whitehead baseThe Underground Railroadon a true story?
“The reality of things,” in Whitehead’s own words, is what he aims to portray in his work, not “the facts.” His characters are entirely made up, and the story of the book, while based on historical facts, is told in an episodic style, as is the case with most episodic fiction. This book traces Cora’s trek to freedom, describing her lengthy trip from Georgia to the Carolinas, Tennessee and Indiana.) Each step of the journey presents a fresh set of hazards that are beyond Cora’s control, and many of the people she meets suffer horrible ends.) What distinguishes The Underground Railroad from previous works on the subject is its presentation of the titular network as a physical rather than a figurative transportation mechanism.
According to Whitehead, who spoke to NPR in 2016, this alteration was prompted by his “childhood belief” that the Underground Railroad was a “literal tunnel beneath the earth”—a misperception that is surprisingly widespread.
Webber Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons While the Underground Railroad was composed of “local networks of anti-slavery people,” both Black and white, according to Pulitzer Prize–winning historianEric Foner, the Underground Railroad actually consisted of “local networks of anti-slavery people, both Black and white, who assisted fugitives in various ways,” from raising funds for the abolitionist cause to taking cases to court to concealing runaways in safe houses.
Although the actual origins of the name are unknown, it was in widespread usage by the early 1840s.
Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, argues that the Underground Railroad should be referred to as the “Abolitionist Underground” rather than the “Underground Railroad” because the people who ran it “were not just ordinary, well-meaning Northern white citizens, activists, particularly in the free Black community,” she says.
As Foner points out, however, “the majority of the initiative, and the most of the danger, fell on the shoulders of African-Americans who were fleeing.” a portrait taken in 1894 of Harriet Jacobs, who managed to hide in an attic for nearly seven years after fleeing from slavery.
Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons “Recognizable historical events and patterns,” according to Foner, are used by Whitehead in a way that is akin to that of the late Toni Morrison.
According to Sinha, these effects may be seen throughout Cora’s journey.
According to Foner, author of the 2015 bookGateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, “the more you know about this history, the more you can appreciate what Whitehead is doing in fusing the past and the present, or perhaps fusing the history of slavery with what happened after the end of slavery.”
What time period doesThe Underground Railroadcover?
Caesar (Aaron Pierre) and Cora (Thuso Mbedu) believe they’ve discovered a safe haven in South Carolina, but their new companions’ behaviors are based on a belief in white supremacy, as seen by their deeds. Kyle Kaplan is a producer at Amazon Studios. The Underground Railroad takes place around the year 1850, which coincides with the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act. Runaways who had landed in free states were targeted by severe regulations, and those who supported them were subjected to heavy punishments.
In spite of the fact that it was intended to hinder the Underground Railroad, according to Foner and Sinha, the legislation actually galvanized—and radicalized—the abolitionist cause.
“Every time the individual switches to a different condition, the novel restarts,” the author explains in his introduction.
” Cora’s journey to freedom is replete with allusions to pivotal moments in post-emancipation history, ranging from the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in the mid-20th century to white mob attacks on prosperous Black communities in places like Wilmington, North Carolina (targeted in 1898), and Tulsa, Oklahoma (targeted in 1898).
According to Spencer Crew, former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and emeritus director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, this “chronological jumble” serves as a reminder that “the abolition of slavery does not herald the abolition of racism and racial attacks.” This problem has survived in many forms, with similar effects on the African American community,” says the author.
What real-life events doesThe Underground Railroaddramatize?
In Whitehead’s envisioned South Carolina, abolitionists provide newly liberated people with education and work opportunities, at least on the surface of things. However, as Cora and Caesar quickly discover, their new companions’ conviction in white superiority is in stark contrast to their kind words. (Eugenicists and proponents of scientific racism frequently articulated opinions that were similar to those espoused by these fictitious characters in twentieth-century America.) An inebriated doctor, while conversing with a white barkeep who moonlights as an Underground Railroad conductor, discloses a plan for his African-American patients: I believe that with targeted sterilization, initially for the women, then later for both sexes, we might liberate them from their bonds without worry that they would slaughter us in our sleep.
- “Controlled sterilization, research into communicable diseases, the perfecting of new surgical techniques on the socially unfit—was it any wonder that the best medical talents in the country were flocking to South Carolina?” the doctor continues.
- The state joined the Union in 1859 and ended slavery inside its borders, but it specifically incorporated the exclusion of Black people from its borders into its state constitution, which was finally repealed in the 1920s.
- In this image from the mid-20th century, a Tuskegee patient is getting his blood taken.
- There is a ban on black people entering the state, and any who do so—including the numerous former slaves who lack the financial means to flee—are murdered in weekly public rituals.
- The plot of land, which is owned by a free Black man called John Valentine, is home to a thriving community of runaways and free Black people who appear to coexist harmoniously with white residents on the property.
- An enraged mob of white strangers destroys the farm on the eve of a final debate between the two sides, destroying it and slaughtering innocent onlookers.
- There is a region of blackness in this new condition.” Approximately 300 people were killed when white Tulsans demolished the thriving Black enclave of Greenwood in 1921.
- Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons According to an article published earlier this year by Tim Madigan for Smithsonianmagazine, a similar series of events took place in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, which was known locally as “Black Wall Street,” in June 1921.
- Madigan pointed out that the slaughter was far from an isolated incident: “In the years preceding up to 1921, white mobs murdered African Americans on hundreds of instances in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Duluth, Charleston, and other places,” according to the article.
In addition, Foner explains that “he’s presenting you the variety of options,” including “what freedom may actually entail, or are the constraints on freedom coming after slavery?” “It’s about. the legacy of slavery, and the way slavery has twisted the entire civilization,” says Foner of the film.
How doesThe Underground Railroadreflect the lived experience of slavery?
“How can I construct a psychologically plausible plantation?” Whitehead is said to have pondered himself while writing on the novel. According to theGuardian, the author decided to think about “people who have been tortured, brutalized, and dehumanized their whole lives” rather than depicting “a pop culture plantation where there’s one Uncle Tom and everyone is just incredibly nice to each other.” For the remainder of Whitehead’s statement, “Everyone will be battling for the one additional mouthful of food in the morning, fighting for the tiniest piece of property.” According to me, this makes sense: “If you put individuals together who have been raped and tortured, this is how they would behave.” Despite the fact that she was abandoned as a child by her mother, who appears to be the only enslaved person to successfully escape Ridgeway’s clutches, Cora lives in the Hob, a derelict building reserved for outcasts—”those who had been crippled by the overseers’ punishments,.
who had been broken by the labor in ways you could see and in ways you couldn’t see, who had lost their wits,” as Whitehead describes Cora is played by Mbedu (center).
With permission from Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima While attending a rare birthday party for an older enslaved man, Cora comes to the aid of an orphaned youngster who mistakenly spills some wine down the sleeve of their captor, prompting him to flee.
Cora agrees to accompany Caesar on his journey to freedom a few weeks later, having been driven beyond the threshold of endurance by her punishment and the bleakness of her ongoing life as a slave.
As a result, those who managed to flee faced the potential of severe punishment, he continues, “making it a perilous and risky option that individuals must choose with care.” By making Cora the central character of his novel, Whitehead addresses themes that especially plagued enslaved women, such as the fear of rape and the agony of carrying a child just to have the infant sold into captivity elsewhere.
The account of Cora’s sexual assault in the novel is heartbreakingly concise, with the words “The Hob ladies stitched her up” serving as the final word.
Although not every enslaved women was sexually assaulted or harassed, they were continuously under fear of being raped, mistreated, or harassed, according to the report.
With permission from Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima The novelist’s account of the Underground Railroad, according to Sinha, “gets to the core of how this venture was both tremendously courageous and terribly perilous.” She believes that conductors and runaways “may be deceived at any time, in situations that they had little control over.” Cora, on the other hand, succinctly captures the liminal state of escapees.
“What a world it is.
“Was she free of bondage or still caught in its web?” “Being free had nothing to do with shackles or how much room you had,” Cora says.
The location seemed enormous despite its diminutive size.
In his words, “If you have to talk about the penalty, I’d prefer to see it off-screen.” “It’s possible that I’ve been reading this for far too long, and as a result, I’m deeply wounded by it.
view of it is that it feels a little bit superfluous to me.
In his own words, “I recognized that my job was going to be coupling the brutality with its psychological effects—not shying away from the visual representation of these things, but focusing on what it meant to the people.” “Can you tell me how they’re fighting back?
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