Underground Railroad conductors were free individuals who helped fugitive slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad. Conductors helped runaway slaves by providing them with safe passage to and from stations. If a conductor was caught helping free slaves they would be fined, imprisoned, branded, or even hanged.
Who are famous conductors of Underground Railroad?
- Interesting Facts about the Underground Railroad Slave owners really wanted Harriet Tubman, a famous conductor for the railroad, arrested. They offered a reward of $40,000 for her capture. That was a LOT of money back then. One hero of the Underground Railroad was Levi Coffin, a Quaker who is said to have helped around 3,000 slaves gain their freedom. The most common route for people to escape was north into the northern United States or Canada, but some slaves in the deep south escaped to
What is the difference between a conductor and a station master?
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
Was Harriet Tubman a conductor on the Underground Railroad?
Known as the “Moses of her people,” Harriet Tubman was enslaved, escaped, and helped others gain their freedom as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy, guerrilla soldier, and nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War.
Who are the people of the Underground Railroad?
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.
Who was the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad?
Our Headlines and Heroes blog takes a look at Harriet Tubman as the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. Tubman and those she helped escape from slavery headed north to freedom, sometimes across the border to Canada.
What is the difference between a train engineer and a conductor?
Locomotive engineers drive passenger and freight trains, while conductors manage the activities of the crew and passengers on the train. Conductors may take payments or tickets from passengers and assist them when they have any difficulties.
Is Gertie Davis died?
Harriet Tubman’s exact age would be 201 years 10 months 28 days old if alive. Total 73,747 days. Harriet Tubman was a social life and political activist known for her difficult life and plenty of work directed on promoting the ideas of slavery abolishment.
How many trips did Harriet Tubman take on the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”
How many conductors were there in the Underground Railroad?
These eight abolitionists helped enslaved people escape to freedom. These eight abolitionists helped enslaved people escape to freedom.
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.
Who financed the Underground Railroad?
5: Buying Freedom Meanwhile, so-called “stockholders” raised money for the Underground Railroad, funding anti-slavery societies that provided ex-slaves with food, clothing, money, lodging and job-placement services. At times, abolitionists would simply buy an enslaved person’s freedom, as they did with Sojourner Truth.
What did a conductor do?
Conductors act as guides to the orchestras or choirs they conduct. They choose the works to be performed and study their scores, to which they may make certain adjustments (such as in tempo, articulation, phrasing, repetitions of sections), work out their interpretation, and relay their vision to the performers.
Was Harriet Tubman an abolitionist?
Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. She led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom in the North along the route of the Underground Railroad.
How long was Harriet Tubman A conductor for?
Harriet Tubman’s career in the Railroad was ending by December 1860. She made her last rescue trip to Maryland, bringing seven people to Canada. In the ten years she worked as a “conductor” on the Railroad, Harriet managed to rescue over 300 people.
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
However, many of the intriguing and lesser known elements of the Underground Railroad are not included in many textbooks, despite the fact that it is an essential part of our nation’s history. It is intended that this booklet will serve as a window into the past by presenting a number of original documents pertaining to the Underground Railroad. Broadsides, prize posters, newspaper clippings, historical records, sheet music, pictures, and memoirs connected to the Underground Railroad are among the primary sources included in this collection.
The Underground Railroad was a covert structure established to assist fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in the United States.
As a result, secret codes were developed to aid in the protection of themselves and their purpose.
Runaway slaves were referred to as cargo, and the free persons who assisted them on their journey to freedom were referred to as conductors.
These stations would be identified by a lantern that was lighted and hung outside.
A Dangerous Path to Freedom
Traveling through the Underground Railroad to seek their freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, in a short amount of time in order to escape. They accomplished this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were rushing after them in the night. Slave owners were not the only ones who sought for and apprehended fleeing slaves. For the purpose of encouraging people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters offering monetary compensation for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
- They would have to fend off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them while trekking for lengthy periods of time in the wilderness, as well as cross dangerous terrain and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the arrest of fugitive slaves since they were regarded as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the law at the time.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the southern states, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’ American Memory and America’s Library collections.
He did not escape via the Underground Railroad, but rather on a regular railroad.
Since he was a fugitive slave who did not have any “free papers,” he had to borrow a seaman’s protection certificate, which indicated that a seaman was a citizen of the United States, in order to prove that he was free.
Unfortunately, not all fugitive slaves were successful in their quest for freedom.
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson, and John Parker were just a few of the people who managed to escape slavery using the Underground Railroad system.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet in diameter. When he was finally let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
Fugitive slaves who wanted to escape to freedom had a long and risky trip ahead of them on the Underground Railroad. It was necessary for runaway slaves to travel great distances in a short period of time, sometimes on foot. They did this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were following after them in the streets. The pursuit of fleeing slaves was not limited to slave owners. For the purpose of enticing people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters promising cash to anybody who assisted in the capture of their property.
- Numerous apprehended fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were captured.
- In order to live lengthy amounts of time in the wilderness, people would have to battle off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them, navigate dangerous terrain, and contend with extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the apprehension of fugitive slaves since they were viewed as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the terms of the legislation.
- Only after crossing into Canadian territory would they find safety and liberty.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south from the United States to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- The man was apprehended at his northern residence, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this law.
- Then, following the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the South, from which he had believed himself to have fled.
Both the American Memory and America’s Library divisions of the Libray of Congress are located in Washington, DC.
Frederick Douglass was yet another fugitive slave who managed to flee from his master’s grasp.
He pretended to be a sailor, but it was not enough to fool the authorities into believing he was one.
Fortunately, the train conductor did not pay careful attention to Douglass’ documents, and he was able to board the train and travel to his final destination of liberty.
Although some were successful in escaping slavery, many of those who did were inspired to share their experiences with those who were still enslaved and to assist other slaves who were not yet free.
Another escaping slave, Henry “Box” Brown, managed to get away in a different fashion.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet wide, and weighed two pounds. His singing was heard as soon as he was freed from the box.
Efforts of Abolitionists Telling Their Story:Fugitive Slave Narratives
Henry Bibb was born into slavery in Kentucky in the year 1815, and he was the son of a slave owner. After several failed efforts to emancipate himself from slavery, he maintained the strength and persistence to continue his struggle for freedom despite being captured and imprisoned numerous times. His determination paid off when he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then on to Canada with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, which had been highly anticipated. The following is an excerpt from his tale, in which he detailed one of his numerous escapes and the difficulties he faced as a result of his efforts.
- I began making preparations for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the shackles that tied me as a slave as soon as the clock struck twelve.
- On the twenty-fifth of December, 1837, the long-awaited day had finally arrived when I would put into effect my previous determination, which was to flee for Liberty or accept death as a slave, as I had previously stated.
- It took every ounce of moral strength I have to keep my emotions under control as I said goodbye to my small family.
- Despite the fact that every incentive was extended to me in order to flee if I want to be free, and the call of liberty was booming in my own spirit, ‘Be free, oh, man!
- I was up against a slew of hurdles that had gathered around my mind, attempting to bind my wounded soul, which was still imprisoned in the dark prison of mental degeneration.
- Furthermore, the danger of being killed or arrested and deported to the far South, where I would be forced to spend the rest of my days in hopeless bondage on a cotton or sugar plantation, all conspired to discourage me.
- The moment has come for me to follow through on my commitment.
- This marked the beginning of the construction of what was known as the underground rail route to Canada.
For nearly forty-eight hours, I pushed myself to complete my journey without food or rest, battling against external difficulties that no one who has never experienced them can comprehend: “not knowing when I might be captured while traveling among strangers, through cold and fear, braving the north winds while wearing only a thin layer of clothing, pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not a single house in which I could enter to protect me from the storm.” This is merely one of several accounts penned by runaway slaves who were on the run from their masters.
Sojourner Truth was another former slave who became well-known for her work to bring slavery to an end.
Green and many others, including Josiah Henson, authored autobiographies in which they described their own personal experiences.
Perhaps a large number of escaped slaves opted to write down their experiences in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or perhaps they did so in order to help folks learn from the mistakes of the past in order to create a better future for themselves.
Underground Railroad 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.
Detroit’s Underground Railroad History & Historical Sites
You’ve arrived in Detroit, a city that stands out as a beacon of optimism and freedom on a global scale unlike any other. If that doesn’t seem like the Detroit you’re familiar with, how about the fact that more than 50,000 individuals — enough to fill Ford Field – escaped slavery and went to Detroit via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War? The Underground Railroad was a network of passageways that ran throughout the United States and eventually to Canada, where slavery was abolished and everyone was afforded equal protection under the laws.
Because of its near proximity to Canada, Detroit’s “stations” (or hiding sites) were critical stops on the road to escape for the Underground Railroad.
Why was the Underground Railroad important?
Human ownership was lawful in the United States until 1865, more than a century after the country was founded on the values of freedom and equality. Africans were enslaved by Europeans and subjected to the Triangular Trade, which consisted of traffickers transporting captives from Africa to the Americas and Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. African slaves were compelled to reside on their owner’s land in order to cultivate or offer other services such as weaving, cleaning, and masonry without recompense or the opportunity to leave their owners’ land.
This was the genesis of the Civil Battle, which has been referred to as “the war against one’s own neighbor.” In order to assist slaves in escaping the horrors of their situation in the southern United States and escaping to freedom in the northern United States and Canada, the Underground Railroad was established.
How did the Underground Railroad Work?
Even though the United States was founded on the values of freedom and equality, it was not lawful to own humans until 1865, more than a century after the country was established on those principles. Human enslavement by Europeans occurred during the Triangular Trade, which involved traders transporting captives from Africa to the Americas and Europe. Afro-American slaves were obliged to reside on their owner’s land in order to cultivate or offer other services such as weaving, cleaning, and building, with no recompense or the ability to flee.
Essentially, this was the genesis of the Civil Battle, which has been referred to as “the war against thine own neighbor.” In order to aid slaves in escaping the horrors of their situation in the southern United States and escaping to freedom in the northern United States and Canada, the Underground Railroad was established.
Next Stop: Midnight
For so many people who were brought or were born in this country under the oppression of slavery, Detroit represented a beacon of hope for a better future. In those days, Detroit was referred to as Midnight, and it was the penultimate destination before reaching Canada, which had abolished slavery.
Michigan has played a significant role in that tradition, and Detroit is the personification of freedom’s unbroken spirit of determination. This, I believe, opens up fresh perspectives on the essence of our city’s Spirit of Detroit.
Underground Railroad Historical Sites in Detroit
The city of Detroit still has a number of historical landmarks where you may practically stand in the places where fugitive slaves persevered in their efforts to gain freedom. Located in Hart Plaza, this statue, which overlooks the Detroit River and is unquestionably an international emblem of freedom, is unquestionably a national and worldwide symbol of freedom. Behind the monument, you can see youngsters waving and asking for more to join them as a conductor leads them to safety. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (also known as Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church): It was founded in 1839 as the Colored Methodist Society and played an important role in the Underground Railroad at both of its early locations.
- Antoine St.
- Second Baptist Church: Croghan Street Station is located in the basement of Second Baptist Church, which is located in what is now Detroit’s Greektown district.
- William C.
- Approximately 5,000 fugitive slaves took shelter in this subterranean hiding place.
- Workers uncovered a tunnel beneath the river that had been utilized in the Underground Railroad when the church was moved in 1955 to make space for a new civic center.
- The Residence of George DeBaptiste: This entrepreneur and politician, who was born a free man, assisted former slaves in their escape to freedom over the river from Detroit to Canada.
- Despite the fact that his house is no longer extant, the location is noted at the intersection of East Larned and Beaubien street.
- The Finney Hotel, which originally stood on the southeast intersection of Woodward and Griswold streets in downtown Detroit, was demolished in 2011.
- He was a conductor for the cause even before there were any discussions about reconstruction.
- Tommy’s Detroit BarGrill: It is said that the structure that houses this sports bar was formerly a stop on the Underground Railroad, which is a fascinating fact (and Prohibition for that matter).
An underground passageway beneath the bar is thought to have served as an escape route during both periods of history.
Underground Railroad Tours in Detroit
The city of Detroit still has a number of historical landmarks where you may practically stand in the places where fugitive slaves persevered in their efforts to find freedom. Located in Hart Plaza, this statue, which overlooks the Detroit River and is unquestionably a worldwide emblem of freedom, is unquestionably a national and international symbol of liberty. Behind the statue, youngsters are seen calling out to others to join them as a conductor leads them to safety. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (also known as the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church) is an African Methodist Episcopal church located in Bethel, South Carolina.
- Antoine St.
- Located in the basement of Second Baptist Church in what is now Detroit’s Greektown area, Croghan Street Station is a public transportation stop.
- William C.
- Approximately 5,000 runaway slaves took sanctuary in this underground hideout.
- As part of the church’s relocation in 1955 to make space for a new municipal center, construction workers uncovered a tunnel that ran beneath the river to Canada and had been utilized in the Underground Railroad.
- Slavery was transported over the river by a steamer, operated by a white man, that he acquired disguised as a business vessel but was actually employed to transfer slaves.
- Additionally, DeBaptiste was laid to rest at Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery.
- Finney was a tailor who eventually went on to work in the hospitality industry and was an outspoken supporter of the anti-slavery movement.
- Seen on the northeast corner of State and Griswold, his historical marker is well worth a visit.
- An underground passageway beneath the bar is thought to have served as an escape route during both historical periods.
Learn more aboutDetroit’s black history.
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- City Tour Detroit, Detroit, MI 48226313-757-1283
- 3Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-833-1805
- 4Gateway to Freedom Marker, Detroit, MI 48202313-833-1805
- 2City Tour Detroit, Detroit, MI 48226313-757-1283
- 3Detroit Historical Museum The Hart Plaza is located at Hart Plaza in Detroit, Michigan, USA
- 5 and 6Mariner’s Church is located at 170 E Jefferson Ave in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Phone: 313-259-2206
- Address: 1200 Elmwood St, Detroit, MI 48207, USA
- Elmwood Cemetery 8George DeBaptiste’s Home Marker415 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, United States
- 9Finney Hotel Historical Marker1212 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226, United States
- 10Tommy’s Detroit BarGrill624 3rd Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, United States 313-965-2269
8 Key Contributors to the Underground Railroad
Isaac Hopper, an abolitionist, is shown in this image from the Kean Collection/Getty Images. As early as 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with a “organization of Quakers, founded for such reasons,” which had sought to free a neighbor’s slave. Quakers were instrumental in the establishment of the Underground Railroad. Slavery was opposed in especially in Philadelphia, where Isaac Hopper, a Quaker who converted to Christianity, created what has been described as “the first working cell of the abolitionist underground.” Hopper not only protected escaped slave hunters in his own house, but he also constructed a network of safe havens and recruited a web of spies in order to get insight into their plans.
Hopper, a friend of Joseph Bonaparte, the exiled brother of the former French emperor, went to New York City in 1829 and established himself as a successful businessman.
He remained in the city, continuing to assist fugitive slaves and, at one point, battling off an anti-abolitionist crowd that had formed outside his Quaker bookstore. READ MORE: The Underground Railroad and Its Operation
2. John Brown
John Brown, an abolitionist, about 1846 GraphicaArtis/Getty Images courtesy of Similar to his father, John Brown actively participated in the Underground Railroad by hosting runaways at his home and warehouse and organizing an anti-slave catcher militia following the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which he inherited from his father. The next year, he joined several of his sons in the so-called “Bleeding Kansas” war, leading one attack that resulted in the deaths of five pro-slavery settlers in 1856.
Brown’s radicalization continued to grow, and his ultimate act occurred in October 1859, when he and 21 supporters seized the government arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an effort to incite a large-scale slave uprising.
3. Harriet Tubman
John Brown, an abolitionist, about 1846. Image via Getty Images courtesy of GraphicaArtis Following the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, John Brown, like his father before him, actively participated in the Underground Railroad, sheltering runaways at his home and warehouse and forming an anti-slave catcher militia. The next year, he and many of his sons took part in the so-called “Bleeding Kansas” war, leading one raid that ended in the death of five pro-slavery settlers. The next month, in December 1858, Brown raided three Missouri plantations, freeing 11 enslaved individuals, after which he and his fugitive companions embarked on a roughly 1,500-mile trip across the continent to Canada.
The next December, Brown was apprehended and convicted, and he was executed.
4. Thomas Garrett
‘Thomas Garrett’ is a fictional character created by author Thomas Garrett. The New York Public Library is a public library in New York City. The Quaker “stationmaster” Thomas Garrett, who claimed to have assisted over 2,750 escaped slaves before the commencement of the Civil War, lived in Wilmington, Delaware, and Tubman frequently stopped there on her route up north. Garret not only gave his guests with a place to stay but also with money, clothing & food. He even personally led them to a more secure area on occasion, arm in arm.
Despite this, he persisted in his efforts.
He also stated that “if any of you know of any poor slave who needs assistance, please send him to me, as I now publicly pledge myself to double my diligence and never miss an opportunity to assist a slave to obtain freedom.”
5. William Still
William Still is a well-known author and poet. Photograph courtesy of the Hulton Archive/Getty Images Many runaways traveled from Wilmington, the final Underground Railroad station in the slave state of Delaware, to the office of William Still in adjacent Philadelphia, which was the last stop on their journey. The Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, which provided food and clothing, coordinated escapes, raised funds, and otherwise served as a one-stop social services shop for hundreds of fugitive slaves each year, was chaired by Still, who was a free-born African American.
Still ultimately produced a book in which he chronicled the personal histories of his guests, which offered valuable insight into the operation of the Underground Railroad as a whole.
His assistance to Osborne Anderson, the only African-American member of John Brown’s company to survive the Harpers Ferry raid, was another occasion when he was called upon.
6. Levi Coffin
Charles T. Webber’s painting The Underground Railroad depicts fleeing slaves Levi Coffin, his wife Catherine, and Hannah Haydock providing assistance to the group of fugitive slaves. Getty Images/Bettina Archive/Getty Images Levi Coffin, often known as the “president of the Underground Railroad,” is said to have been an abolitionist when he was seven years old after witnessing a column of chained slaves people being taken to an auction house. Following a humble beginning delivering food to fugitives holed up on his family’s North Carolina plantation, he rose through the ranks to become a successful trader and prolific “stationmaster,” first in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana, and subsequently in Cincinnati, Kentucky.
In addition to hosting anti-slavery lectures and abolitionist sewing club meetings, Coffin, like his fellow Quaker Thomas Garrett, stood steadfast when hauled before a court of law.
7. Elijah Anderson
The Ohio River, which formed the border between slave and free states, was referred to as the River Jordan in abolitionist circles because it represented the border between slave and free states. Madison, Indiana, was an especially appealing crossing point for enslaved persons on the run, because to an Underground Railroad cell established there by blacksmith Elijah Anderson and several other members of the town’s Black middle class in the 1850s. With his fair skin, Anderson might have passed for a white slave owner on his repeated travels into Kentucky, where would purportedly pick up 20 to 30 enslaved persons at a time and whisk them away to freedom, sometimes accompanying them as far as the Coffins’ mansion in Newport.
An anti-slavery mob devastated Madison in 1846, almost drowning an agent of the Underground Railroad, prompting Anderson to flee upriver to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where he eventually settled.
While carrying on his operations, he aided around 800 other fugitives before being arrested and imprisoned in Kentucky for “enticing slaves to flee.” Anderson was found dead in his cell on what some accounts claim was the exact day of his parole in 1861, raising suspicions about his death.
8. Thaddeus Stevens
Mr. Thaddeus Stevens is an American lawyer and senator. Bettmann Archive courtesy of Getty Images; Matthew Brady/Bettmann Archive Thaddeus Stevens, a representative from Pennsylvania, was outspoken in his opposition to slavery. The 14th and 15th amendments, which guaranteed African-American citizens equal protection under the law and the right to vote, respectively, were among his many accomplishments, and he also advocated for a radical reconstruction of the South, which included the redistribution of land from white plantation owners to former enslaved people.
Despite this, it wasn’t until 2002 that his Underground Railroad activities were brought to light, when archeologists uncovered a hidden hiding hole in the courtyard of his Lancaster house.
Seward, also served as Underground Railroad “stationmasters” during the era.
To Canada and Back Again: Immigration from the United States on the Underground Railroad (1840-1860)
The MA Public History Program at Western University students created this video.
Fugitive or Free?
Prior to 1850, runaway slaves who managed to make their way from the southern United States to the northern states were regarded to have gained their freedom. However, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the northern states were no longer considered a safe haven for fugitive slaves. Slavecatchers may be able to apprehend and return escaped slaves to their respective masters. In addition, anyone who had escaped slavery by emigrating to a free state years previously may be deported back to servitude under certain circumstances.
The same threat existed for all free blacks, regardless of race.
Once they had crossed into Upper Canada, all men, women, and children were free to go wherever they wanted.
LC-USZC4-4550 is the Library of Congress’s catalog number for this item.
The Underground Railroad
In the United States, the Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses operated by abolitionists in both free and slave states, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom. Slavery was abolished because of the efforts of those who assisted slaves on their way to freedom – free blacks, Quakers, and other campaigners – who risked their lives fighting against it.
Despite the fact that there was never a true railroad, safehouses were referred to as stations, and those who lived in them were referred to as stationmasters. Those who guided fleeing slaves on their way to freedom were referred to as conductors.
New Land, New Life
In Canada West (previously Upper Canada), black males were granted the ability to own property and vote if they satisfied certain qualifications regarding ownership of property. It was possible for all black people to make a living, get married, and establish a family. Building a new life in Canada was made possible thanks to the help of the Canadian government and abolitionist organisations in both Canada and the United States of America. Refugees were permitted to purchase land at a discounted cost, and educational subsidies were made available to them.
Did You Know?
The province of Upper Canada was renamed Canada West in 1841, and now it is a component of the modern-day Canadian province of Ontario.
When escaped slaves first arrived in Canada West, the vast majority of them chose to live near the United States border. Because of this, they were able to remain closer to family relatives who were distributed around the United States. During this time period, white folks acted in a largely neutral manner toward them. When fugitive slaves began to arrive in greater numbers in the United States around 1840, white residents began to feel threatened. Some people were concerned that these escaped slaves would be unable to work and would be forced to rely on government help instead.
The petition was eventually signed by over 100,000 people.
Black immigrants settled in a variety of towns and communities, including Hamilton, St. Catharine’s, Windsor, and Toronto, as well as other locations. The Chatham-Kent region of Canada West has the highest population of black immigrants and refugees, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. In the 1820s, a handful of all-black towns were formed in the United States. William Wilberforce, a former slave who created Wilberforce, was the world’s first community of this type. The Dawn Settlement was established in 1834 by escaped slave Josiah Henson.
- Later, the towns of Wilberforce and the Dawn Settlement were either abandoned or incorporated into other cities.
- The Buxton Mission is still in operation today in the town of North Buxton, Ontario.
- Some claimed it was the most effective means of protecting oneself, while others were concerned that it was contributing to the continuation of inequality.
- Elgin Settlement, located in what is now Chatham, Ontario, was established in 1849.
The Elgin Settlement as seen on a map from 1860. William King collection/e000755345, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.
Josiah Henson was born a slave in Maryland in 1789, and he and his family finally escaped to Canada in 1830, where they settled. Dawn Township, which later became known as the Dawn Colony, was built by him as an all-Black settlement. Henson made a name for himself as a Methodist preacher in the area, and he believed strongly in the significance of providing work and educational opportunities for black immigrants. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was first published in 1852, was based on the life of Uncle Tom.
A neighborhood leader and “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, Josiah Henson was well-respected in his day.
Making Their Mark
Wherever they landed across Canada, black immigrants who arrived to the country via the Underground Railroad made significant contributions to the well-being of their respective communities. Many of them went on to become farmers, raising crops such as wheat, peas, tobacco, and hemp. Others were experienced tradespeople who worked as blacksmiths, shoemakers, and wagon makers, among other things. The majority of black women, like their white counterparts, did not have jobs outside the house. They cared for their children or earned a living as seamstresses and washerwomen in the factories.
Mrs. Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893), the daughter of an Underground Railroad “station master,” was an abolitionist pioneer and advocate for black refugees who came to Canada during the American Civil War. C-029977 is the number assigned by Library and Archives Canada. A number of publications were established in order to raise awareness of the opportunities available to black people in Canada, to disseminate news, and to advocate for the abolition of slavery. One of the early black newspapers in Canada, The Voice of the Fugitive was established in Sandwich, Canada West, in 1851 and was one of the country’s first black publications.
Following that, Mary Ann Shadd Cary started another newspaper, the Provincial Freeman, which she published until her death.
Shadd Cary was the first black woman to be elected to political office in the United States.
The Voice of the Fugitive was one of the first periodicals in Canada West to be published in order to raise awareness of the possibilities and services available to African-Americans. Amistad Research Center/American Missionary Association Archives ama0015 (Voice of the Fugitive, 1851).
Did You Know?
After meeting certain requirements, black men were granted the right to vote upon their arrival in Canada. Women in Canada were not granted the right to vote in federal elections until 1919, and Aboriginal people were not granted the right to vote until 1960.
In Canada, black men were granted the right to vote after meeting certain criteria upon arrival. Until 1919, women in Canada were denied the right to vote in federal elections, and Aboriginal peoples were denied the right to vote until 1960.
Upper Canada’s John Graves Simcoe signs the Act Against Slavery into law in the year 1793. The British Emancipation Act of 1834 formally abolishes the system of slavery across the British Empire, with the exception of the colonies. The Dawn Settlement is established near Dresden, Canada West, in the year 1842. The Elgin Settlement, Canada West, is established in 1849. The Fugitive Slave Act is passed in the United States of America in 1850. Sandwich, Canada West, is the site of the inaugural publication of The Voice of the Fugitive newspaper in 1851.
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- The American Civil War began in 1861.
- The American Civil War comes to a conclusion in 1865.
- – In Washington, D.C., Mary Ann Shadd Cary succumbs to her injuries.
A Beacon of Resilience and Love: Harriet Tubman
Because she was one of the most well-known “conductors” of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman demonstrated how a person can leave an inspirational legacy of love, sacrifice, and tenacity despite having been born into the most difficult of circumstances. The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York, is made up of four locations that memorialize her life’s work and provide a more full account of this exceptional abolitionist. The park is located in the town of Auburn, New York.
Born into Slavery
Harriet Tubman’s existence as a slave on Maryland’s Eastern shore, where she was born Araminta Ross in 1822, was a hardship and a source of much conflict. Her father had been separated from the rest of the family from an early age. In the following years, three of her elder sisters were sold into slavery in the Deep South. Tubman had been separated from her mother by the time she was six years old, when she was hired to look after children and work in the fields and forest. Despite this, Harriet was able to find methods to spend time with her family despite the fact that they were always separated.
Though Tubman’s mother was successful in nursing her back to health, she continued to suffer from epilepsy for the remainder of her life.
The anguish and suffering Harriet Tubman endured did not deter her from dedicating her life to compassion and equality, from liberating enslaved people to pushing for women’s suffrage to caring for the elderly and everyone in between.
Freedom for Herself, Freedom for Others
After her marriage to freedman John Tubman in 1844, Harriet changed her name to Harriet Tubman. Tubman escaped alone from her enslaver five years later, when he died, and eventually achieved freedom in Pennsylvania. Despite the fact that Tubman was free, she was alone and separated from her family. Despite the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Tubman returned to Maryland’s Eastern Shore 13 times over the course of the next decade. Because of her wits and bravery, as well as her everlasting trust in God and wilderness talents, she was able to lead 70 individuals to freedom, the majority of them were relatives and friends, and she also supplied directions for another 50-60 people to assist them in their escape.
The Civil War began in 1861, and the governor of Massachusetts, John Andrews, enlisted Harriet Tubman to work with Union generals at Port Royal, South Carolina, shortly after the conflict began.
Tubman became the first woman to command an operation in the history of the United States military when she organized and led an armed expedition that was effective in dealing a military and psychological blow to the Confederate cause in the summer of 1863.
Fighting for Human Rights and Dignity
Upon her return from the war and when slavery was abolished, Harriet Tubman lived in New York, where she continued her battle for equality while also providing assistance to the poor. Tubman collaborated with a number of influential politicians, thinkers, and intellectuals of her day, including Frederick Douglass, William Henry Seward, Susan B. Anthony, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many more. During her tenure in New York, she assisted in the establishment of schools for liberated blacks in the southern United States.
The Harriet Tubman Home of the Aged was established in 1908 with the goal of improving the lives of persons who had been sentenced to servitude.
Visiting the Park
Harriet Tubman was a warrior throughout her life, and her influence continues to reverberate throughout the centuries – long after her death in 1913. It is possible to learn about the issues that Harriet Tubman was fighting for while visiting Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in central New York, as well as experience the region where she spent the remainder of her free life. Harriet Tubman is interred in the Fort Hill Cemetery, which is located directly across the street from the visitor center and museum (note: the cemetery is not managed by the park).
Apart from that, the park’s boundaries contain Harriet Tubman’s home, as well as a nursing home and the Harriet Tubman Visitor Center.
Working as a covert conductor on the Underground Railroad or caring for people in need in Auburn, New York, Harriet Tubman led a life committed to helping those less fortunate than herself.
When youFindYourPark/ EncuentraTuParque visit this or any of the national parks that honor her life and work, let her devotion and selflessness serve as an inspiration to you.