The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early- to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans primarily to escape into free states and Canada.
How did slaves use the Underground Railroad?
Conductors helped runaway slaves by providing them with safe passage to and from stations. They did this under the cover of darkness with slave catchers hot on their heels. Many times these stations would be located within their own homes and businesses.
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 did slaves eat on the Underground Railroad?
In all contexts, enslaved people would have likely grown and eaten okra, corn, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes, as well as raised pigs, chickens, and goats, some for market.
Did slaves work on railroads?
Most of the slave labor on southern railroads was hired or rented from local slaveholders to grade the tracks. Enslaved women and children were also forced to work on the railroads, running wheelbarrows, moving dirt, cooking, picking up stones, and shoveling. But railroads began buying slaves outright in the mid-1850s.
What role did the Underground Railroad play?
The Underground Railroad provided hiding places, food, and often transportation for the fugitives who were trying to escape slavery. Along the way, people also provided directions for the safest way to get further north on the dangerous journey to freedom.
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 happened to the Underground Railroad?
End of the Line The Underground Railroad ceased operations about 1863, during the Civil War. In reality, its work moved aboveground as part of the Union effort against the Confederacy.
How successful was the Underground Railroad?
Ironically the Fugitive Slave Act increased Northern opposition to slavery and helped hasten the Civil War. The Underground Railroad gave freedom to thousands of enslaved women and men and hope to tens of thousands more. In both cases the success of the Underground Railroad hastened the destruction of slavery.
How many slaves were caught on the Underground Railroad?
Estimates vary widely, but at least 30,000 slaves, and potentially more than 100,000, escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
What did the slaves do for fun?
During their limited leisure hours, particularly on Sundays and holidays, slaves engaged in singing and dancing. Though slaves used a variety of musical instruments, they also engaged in the practice of “patting juba” or the clapping of hands in a highly complex and rhythmic fashion. A couple dancing.
What did slaves do in the winter?
In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as ” playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey ” (p.
Where did slaves sleep?
Slaves on small farms often slept in the kitchen or an outbuilding, and sometimes in small cabins near the farmer’s house. On larger plantations where there were many slaves, they usually lived in small cabins in a slave quarter, far from the master’s house but under the watchful eye of an overseer.
Why did the railroads replace the canals?
Since roads were so bad, canals became the major means for hauling goods. That meant that the same horse could move more goods on a canal; but when speed was needed, he did much better on a railway. Trevethick built the first steam locomotive in 1804, and railroad speeds increased rapidly from then on.
What did railroads do for the South?
Every major Civil War battle east of the Mississippi River took place within twenty miles of a rail line. Railroads provided fresh supplies of arms, men, equipment, horses, and medical supplies on a direct route to where armies were camped.
Did slaves build the transcontinental railroad?
Thousands of workers, including Irish and German immigrants, former Union and Confederate soldiers, freed slaves, and especially Chinese immigrants played a part in the construction. Chinese laborers first went to work for the Central Pacific as it began crossing California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1865.
It was the first time he heard about the Underground Railroad that Barry Jenkins recalls with vivid detail. The first time he heard those words, he was around 5 or 6, and he recalls how it was “unimaginable” to him: “I saw Black people riding trains that were underground.” He worked as a longshoreman and would always arrive at the port with his hard hat and tool belt on his back.” The Underground Railroad was built by someone like him, in my mind. This was such a great sensation since it was just about Black people and the concept of constructing things.
In adulthood, however, the image remained with him as a result of his works, which included the Academy Award-winning “Moonlight” and the romantic drama “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which elevated him to the top of Hollywood’s filmography.
A boxcar propelled by a steam engine transports slaves to free states through underground tunnels, as imagined by Whitehead, who reimagines the Underground Railroad.
Jenkins, who won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for “Moonlight” alongside Tarell Alvin McCraney, will have yet another high-profile project to his credit with this drama.
- For months, there has been a lot of excitement about the new initiative.
- There was a sequence of warnings from his buddies that he shouldn’t do.
- Even early good reviews haven’t given him much hope.
- “I’m very aware that these photographs of my ancestors will be seen by others.
- Still carrying the burden of obligation and weight.
- For a long time, I believed that making the art would exorcise those demons or lift that burden.
- Simply put, it’s excessive.” ‘I’m certain that people will come upon these photographs of my relatives,’ says Barry Jenkins, star of ‘The Underground Railroad.’ “That obligation, that weight, it’s still there with me today.” As seen on Amazon Prime Video (courtesy of Atsushi Nishijima).
- I was able to recognize it immediately.
- In addition, he was able to witness the actual manifestation of his early idea with the construction of an underground set at the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah, Georgia.
- ‘It needs to be authentic.’ My goal is to have the audience witness something similar to what I witnessed as a kid.
- If my forefathers had walked into one of these tunnels and saw the track and the light arriving, as well as a Black conductor calling out, “All aboard!” you can image how they would have felt.
This is just what I was looking for.” However, whereas his poetic and lyrical style in dealing with racial themes in “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” was embraced by critics and audiences, “The Underground Railroad” explores more explosive terrain, diving headfirst into the fiery issue of race and the resulting tensions that have sparked volatile protests across the country and spirited debate within popular culture.
In a long line of notable efforts that have combined America’s horrendous history of racial relations with genre elements, the series is the most recent entry.
Black viewers have condemned the films “Them” and “Two Distant Strangers” in particular, calling the disturbing scenes “Black trauma porn.” Their argument is that the scenarios are particularly distressing since they have resemblances to real-life police violence against Black people and the worrying revival of white supremacist organizations.
- In fact, Jenkins claims that black viewers had already expressed their opinions several weeks prior to the launch.
- ‘The Underground Railroad’ director Barry Jenkins, at right, on the set.
- I asked my friends for their opinions, and most of them stated that they did not believe I should perform the program.
- I don’t believe the country will ever be able to look at photographs from this period,” says the author.
- When I hear it, I have to believe that there is some kind of deliberate ignorance or erasure of all of the horrors that America has done, particularly when it comes to people who look like me.
- To discover Jenkins’ underlying goal, audiences are encouraged to look past the scenes of brutality and recognize his true motivation: to shine a light on the victory of slaves rather than on their traumatic experience.
At the end, it’s the only reason why someone like myself is in this place today.” The fact that I am able to take these images and put them back into their original context justifies their depiction.” Whitehead’s work contains a significant amount of dialogue with youngsters, and the author stated that he wished to replicate that presence in his series.
- A great deal, though, has to do with parental responsibilities.
- Thus, youngsters are constantly present in our presentation.
- Dubois 40 years later.” He took a breath to emphasize his point.
- “I came to the realization that this was one of the most amazing acts of collective parenting the world has ever witnessed.
- In other words, my ancestors’ reinterpretation of their lives lies at the heart of the book.
It’s impossible to be more wrong than this.” The actors and crew were given a specific direction by Jenkins throughout the filming of the series, which he described as follows: “I told them, “We’re not going to levitate, but we’ll find a way to manufacture magic, just as our predecessors did.” In Amazon’s “The Underground Railroad,” Joel Edgerton portrays the vicious slave catcher Ridgeway.
- Image courtesy of Amazon Studios and Atsushi Nishijima.
- Whyte has worked with the military, schools, and community groups, providing counseling and assistance.
- “I couldn’t find a model before me in terms of being a mental health counselor on a set,” Whyte added, expressing gratitude for Jenkins’ confidence in her.
- No obstacles were put in my way, and he urged everyone to make use of my skills and abilities.
- Everyone was going through their emotions as they dealt with this very difficult subject matter.
- Their lives were not in jeopardy, though.
- The material, on the other hand, was having an effect on them.
Occasionally, some of the performers who were portraying bigots had difficulties dealing with the material they were portraying.
It was common for someone to approach me and tell me, “I have to depict this.” What should I say to my mother to make her understand what I’m saying?
The feeling that they should not feel a particular way belonging to the Black crew and Black performers, and that they should not be unhappy was expressed by a handful of people.
Although it was a crime against Black people, it was also a crime against all humanity.
This meant they had to accept that it wasn’t their own rage at the time.
“I have a strong suspicion that my obituary will be published six months early than it ought to.” Nevertheless, it was well worth the effort.”
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
According to historical records, the Quakers were the first organized organization to actively assist fugitive slaves. When Quakers attempted to “liberate” one of Washington’s enslaved employees in 1786, George Washington took exception to it. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were fleeing their masters’ hands. Abolitionist societies founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitives at the same time.
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.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
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.
Myths About the Underground Railroad
When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery enabled those events to take place, never to be lost again. Among our ancestors’ long and dreadful history of human bondage is the Underground Railroad, which has garnered more recent attention from teachers, students, museum curators, and the tourism industry than any other institution from the black past.
- Nevertheless, in the effort to convey the narrative of this magnificent institution, fiction and lore have occasionally taken precedence over historical truth.
- The sacrifices and valor of our forefathers and foremothers, as well as their allies, are made all the more noble, heroic, and striking as a result.
- I think this is a common misconception among students.
- As described by Wilbur H.
- Running slaves, frequently in groups of up to several families, were said to have been directed at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ secret name for the North Star.
The Railroad in Lore
Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.
When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.
scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.
First, a brief overview of the Underground Railroad’s history:
A Meme Is Born
As Blight correctly points out, the railroad has proven to be one of the most “enduring and popular strands in the fabric of America’s national historical memory.” Since the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans, particularly in New England and the Midwest, have either made up legends about the deeds of their ancestors or simply repeated stories that they have heard about their forebears.
It’s worth taking a look at the history of the phrase “Underground Railroad” before diving into those tales, though.
Tice Davids was a Kentucky slave who managed to escape to Ohio in 1831, and it is possible that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was invented as a result of his successful escape.
According to Blight, he is believed to have said that Davids had vanished as though “the nigger must have gone off on an underground railroad.” This is a fantastic narrative — one that would be worthy of Richard Pryor — but it is improbable, given that train lines were non-existent at the time.
- The fleeing slave from Washington, D.C., who was tortured and forced to testify that he had been taken north, where “the railroad extended underground all the way to Boston,” according to one report from 1839, was captured.
- constructed from Mason and Dixon’s to the Canada line, upon which fugitives from slavery might come pouring into this province” is the first time the term appears.
- 14, 1842, in the Liberator, a date that may be supported by others who claim that abolitionist Charles T.
Myth Battles Counter-Myth
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.
Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.
Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.
In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”
Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism
That’s a little amount of history; what about those urban legends? The answers are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement itself were possibly the first examples in American history of a truly multiracial alliance, and the role played by the Quakers in its success cannot be overstated. Despite this, it was primarily controlled by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, with the most notable exception being the famous Philadelphian William Still, who served as its president.
- The Underground Railroad was made possible by the efforts of white and black activists such as Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett, Calvin Fairbank, Charles Torrey, Harriet Tubman and Still, all of whom were true heroes.
- Because of the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the railroad’s growth did not take place until after that year.
- After all, it was against the law to help slaves in their attempts to emancipate themselves.
- Being an abolitionist or a conductor on the Underground Railroad, according to the historian Donald Yacovone, “was about as popular and hazardous as being a member of the Communist Party in 1955,” he said in an email to me.
- The Underground Railroad was predominantly a phenomena of the Northern United States.
- For the most part, fugitive slaves were left on their own until they were able to cross the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon Line and thereby reach a Free State.
- For fugitives in the North, well-established routes and conductors existed, as did some informal networks that could transport fugitives from places such as the abolitionists’ office or houses in Philadelphia to other locations north and west.
(where slavery remained legal until 1862), as well as in a few locations throughout the Upper South, some organized support was available.
I’m afraid there aren’t many.
Furthermore, few dwellings in the North were equipped with secret corridors or hidden rooms where slaves might be hidden.
What about freedom quilts?
The only time a slave family had the resources to sew a quilt was to shelter themselves from the cold, not to relay information about alleged passages on the Underground Railroad that they had never visited.
As we will discover in a future column, the danger of treachery about individual escapes and collective rebellions was much too large for escape plans to be publicly shared.5.
No one has a definitive answer.
According to Elizabeth Pierce, an administrator at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the figure might be as high as 100,000, but that appears to be an overstatement.
We may put these numbers into context by noting that there were 3.9 million slaves and only 488,070 free Negroes in 1860 (with more than half of them still living in the South), whereas there were 434,495 free Negroes in 1850 (with more than half still living in the South).
The fact that only 101 fleeing slaves ever produced book-length “slave narratives” describing their servitude until the conclusion of the Civil War is also significant to keep in mind while thinking about this topic.
However, just a few of them made it to safety.
How did the fugitive get away?
John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, as summarized by Blight, “80 percent of these fugitives were young guys in their teens and twenties who absconded alone on the majority of occasions.
Because of their household and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less likely to flee than older slave women.
Lyford in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had been a long and difficult journey.” 7.
What is “Steal Away”?
They used them to communicate secretly with one another in double-voiced discussions that neither the master nor the overseer could comprehend.
However, for reasons of safety, privacy, security, and protection, the vast majority of slaves who escaped did so alone and covertly, rather than risking their own safety by notifying a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, for fear of betraying their masters’ trust.
Just consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been thus planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you think?
According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the vast majority of whom were black.
Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrible and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the total numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, were “not huge.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were not nearly as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.
Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be published on the website African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. On The Root, you may find all 100 facts.
What is the Underground Railroad? – Underground Railroad (U.S. National Park Service)
Harvey Lindsley captured a shot of Harriet Tubman. THE CONGRESSIONAL LIBRARY
I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say—I neverran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.
When we talk about the Underground Railroad, we’re talking about the attempts of enslaved African Americans to obtain their freedom by escaping bondage. The Underground Railroad was a method of resisting slavery by escape and flight from 1850 until the end of the Civil War. Escape attempts were made in every location where slavery was practiced. In the beginning, to maroon villages in distant or rough terrain on the outside of inhabited regions, and later, across state and international borders.
- The majority of freedom seekers began their journey unaided and the majority of them completed their self-emancipation without assistance.
- It’s possible that the choice to aid a freedom seeking was taken on the spur of the moment.
- People of various ethnicities, social classes, and genders took part in this massive act of civil disobedience, despite the fact that what they were doing was unlawful.
- A map of the United States depicting the many paths that freedom seekers might follow in order to attain freedom.
- All thirteen original colonies, as well as Spanish California, Louisiana and Florida; Central and South America; and all of the Caribbean islands were slave states until the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and British abolition of slavery brought an end to the practice in 1804.
- The Underground Railroad had its beginnings at the site of enslavement in the United States.
- The proximity to ports, free territories, and international borders caused a large number of escape attempts.
- Freedom seekers used their inventiveness to devise disguises, forgeries, and other techniques, drawing on their courage and brains in the process.
- The assistance came from a varied range of groups, including enslaved and free blacks, American Indians, and people from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds.
- Because of their links to the whaling business, the Pacific West Coast and potentially Alaska became popular tourist destinations.
During the American Civil War, many freedom seekers sought refuge and liberty by fleeing to the Union army’s lines of communication.
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
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 a vital part of our country’s history. This pamphlet will give a glimpse into the past through a range of primary documents pertaining to the Underground Railroad, which will be discussed in detail. Broadsides, prize posters, newspaper clippings, historical records, sheet music, pictures, and memoirs relating 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 American Civil War.
Consequently, secret codes were developed to assist them in protecting themselves and their purpose.
It was the conductors that assisted escaped slaves in their journey to freedom, and the fugitive slaves were known as cargo when they were transported.
Train conductors on the Underground Railroad were free persons who provided assistance to escaped slaves moving via the Underground Railroad system. Runaway slaves were assisted by conductors, who provided them with safe transportation to and from train stations. They were able to accomplish this under the cover of darkness, with slave hunters on their tails. Many of these stations would be in the comfort of their own homes or places of work, which was convenient. They were in severe danger as a result of their actions in hiding fleeing slaves; nonetheless, they continued because they believed in a cause bigger than themselves, which was the liberation thousands of oppressed human beings.
- They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
- Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
- With the following words from one of his songs, abolitionist poet John Whittier paid respect to Walker’s valiant actions: “Take a step forward with your muscular right hand, brave ploughman of the sea!
- She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
- He went on to write a novel.
- John Parker is yet another former slave who escaped and returned to slave states in order to aid in the emancipation of others.
Rankin’s neighbor and fellow conductor, Reverend John Rankin, was a collaborator in the Underground Railroad project.
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were unquestionably anti-slavery, and they were not alone in their views.
Individuals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur and Lewis Tappan founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which marked the beginning of the abolitionist movement.
The group published an annual almanac that featured poetry, paintings, essays, and other abolitionist material.
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who rose to prominence as an abolitionist after escaping from slavery.
His other abolitionist publications included the Frederick Douglass Paper, which he produced in addition to delivering public addresses on themes that were important to abolitionists.
Anthony was another well-known abolitionist who advocated for the abolition of slavery via her speeches and writings.
For the most part, she based her novel on the adventures of escaped slave Josiah Henson.
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.
The Underground Railroad in Indiana
Mary Schons contributed to this article. The 20th of June, 2019 is a Thursday. For 30 years before to the American Civil War, enslaved African Americans utilized the Underground Railroad to gain their freedom, a network known as the Underground Railroad (1861-1865). The “railroad” employed a variety of routes to transport people from slave-supporting states in the South to “free” states in the North and Canada. Sometimes abolitionists, or persons who were opposed to slavery, were responsible for organizing routes for the Underground Railroad.
- There was a great deal of activity on the Underground Railroad in the states that bordered the Ohio River, which served as a boundary between slave and free states.
- Not everyone in Indiana supported the emancipation of enslaved people.
- Because Indiana was a part of the Underground Railroad, its narrative is the tale of all states that had a role in it.
- However, while some people did have secret chambers in their homes or carriages, the great bulk of the Underground Railroad consisted of individuals surreptitiously assisting slaves who were attempting to flee slavery in whatever manner they were able to.
- The persons that were enslaved were referred to as “passengers.” “Stations” were private residences or commercial establishments where passengers and conductors seeking freedom might take refuge.
- If a new owner supported slavery, or if the residence was revealed to be a station on the Underground Railroad, passengers and conductors were obliged to locate a new station or move on somewhere.
- Only a small number of people kept records of this hidden activity in order to protect homeowners and others seeking freedom who required assistance.
People who were found assisting those who had fled slavery faced arrest and imprisonment.
No one knows exactly how the Underground Railroad received its name, nor does anybody care.
Another version of the story assigns the name to a freedom-seeker who was apprehended in Washington, D.C., in the year 1839.
A third narrative connects the name to an enslaved man called Tice Davids, who made the decision to pursue his freedom in 1831, according to the legend.
Unfortunately, there was no boat available to take us over the river.
His enslaver returned to Kentucky without him, claiming that Davids had vanished while traveling on a “underground railroad.” To put it another way, the name “Underground Railroad” had been widely accepted by the mid-1840s.
According to Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance, slavery was prohibited north of the Ohio River; however, the rule did not apply to enslaved persons who were already residing in the region.
Slavery was a common feature of life in the Northwest Territories at the time.
Indiana was established as a territory in 1800, with future United States PresidentWilliam Henry Harrison serving as the area’s first territorial governor.
Harrison and his followers also believed that permitting slavery in Indiana would increase the state’s population.
Their petition was refused by Congress.
The “contract holder” has the authority to determine how long the victim must be held in slavery.
When Indiana became a state in 1816, its stateConstitutioncontained wording that was comparable to Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance—new enslaved persons were not permitted, but existing enslaved people were allowed to continue in their current state of enslavement.
The term “slave” was still used to describe some Hoosiers as late as the 1820 census.
(White people were exempt from this requirement.) Indiana’s 1851 Constitution prohibited blacks from voting, serving in the military, or testifying in any trial in which a white person was accused of a crime.
All three pathways eventually went to Michigan and subsequently to Canada, although they took different routes.
Lewis Harding said in a 1915 history of Decatur County, Indiana, that the county was a spot where three roads came together after crossing the Ohio River at separate points in the county.
assisted the escaped slaves in every way imaginable,” he adds, using the injunction as an example.
As Harding says, “the sympathies of the majority of the residents of this nation were with the escaped slave and his rescuer.” Historians now feel that the path to independence resembled a spider’s web rather than three independent pathways to freedom.
While traveling, they had to avoid organized networks of patrolmen who grabbed freedom-seekers and held them hostage for ransom money.
Known as the “President of the Underground Railroad,” Coffin is credited for bringing slavery to Indiana in 1826.
In his memoir, Reminiscences, Coffin tells the story of two girls who escaped Tennessee and sought refuge with their grandparents in the Indiana county of Randolph.
They were not, however, destined to live in safety.
When the alarm went off, it attracted the majority of the settlement’s black people together in a single location.
Unknown to them, an uncle of the two girls rode up on his horse at the same time the enslaver was being held at bay by the grandmother’scorn knife.
They were not given any authorization to enter the premises or search for items, according to him.” The uncle remained at the doorway for as long as he could to continue the dispute with the enslaver.
According to the account, the girls were disguised as guys and sneaked past the crowd to where two horses were waiting for them.
The girls were able to make it to Coffin’s residence without incident.
Eliza Harris’s Indefatigable Escape Indiana is the scene of one of the most famous slave escapes in history, which took place in the state of Indiana.
Harris made the snap decision to flee to Canada with her infant son in tow.
There were no bridges, and there was no way for a raft to get through the thick ice.
Moving from one ice floe to another while carrying her child, she eventually made it to the other end.
Eliza, in fact, is the name of the character who travels across the frigid Ohio.
In order to recover from their ordeal, Harris and her child traveled to Levi Coffin’s Fountain City residence.
In 1854, Levi and Catherine Coffin were on a visit to Canada with their daughter when a woman approached Catherine and introduced herself.
God’s blessings on you!” It was Eliza Harris, who had safely migrated to Chatham, Ontario, Canada, when the call came through.
Illustration provided courtesy of The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information.
Examine the list of locations to determine if any are in your immediate vicinity.
But it was carried out according to a completely other set of rules.
Levi Coffin’s Reminiscences, published in 1880abet Help is a verb that refers to assisting in the committing of a crime.
abolitionist A person who is opposed to slavery as a noun.
authority Making choices is the responsibility of a nounperson or organization.
The payment of a fine or the performance of a contract under the terms of an agreement constitutes a bond, which is an unenforceable agreement.
cattle Andoxen are nouncows.
The American Civil War The American Civil War was fought between the Union (north) and the Confederacy between 1860 and 1865.
conductor A person who escorted slaves to safety and freedom on the Underground Railroad was known as a guide.
The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two chambers of the United States Congress.
convictVerb to find someone guilty of committing a criminal offense.
Municipality is a type of political entity that is smaller than a state or province, but often larger than a city, town, or other municipality.
defendantNounperson or entity who has been accused of committing a crime or engaging in other misconduct.
economy The production, distribution, and consumption of commodities and services are all referred to as a system.
enslave acquainted with the verbto completely control Adjectivewell-known.
forbidVerb to ban or prohibit something.
fugitive a noun or an adjective that has gotten away from the law or another limitation a system or order established by a country, a state, or any other political body; government Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American writer and abolitionist activist who lived from 1811 to 1896.
Nouna huge, flat sheet of ice that is floating on the surface of a body of water.
labor is a noun that refers to work or employment.
Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the term negronoun was frequently used to refer to persons of African descent.
During the American Civil War, the North was comprised of states that backed the United States (Union).
A portion of the modern-day states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota belonged to the Northwest Territory at the time of its creation.
The Ohio River is the greatest tributary of the Mississippi River, with a length of 1,580 kilometers (981 miles).
passenger A fugitive slave seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad is referred to as a noun.
Requests are made verbally, and are frequently accompanied by a document signed by the respondents.
prominentAdjectivethat is significant or stands out.
recover from an accident or strenuous activityVerb to recover from an injury or rigorous activity repeal a verb that means to reverse or reject anything that was previously guaranteed rouse a verb that means to awaken or make active.
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).
South During the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America (Confederacy) was backed or sympathized with by a huge number of states.
Supreme CourtNounin the United States, the highest judicial authority on questions of national or constitutional significance.
terminology A noungroup of words that are employed in a particular topic area.
Nounland that is protected against invaders by an animal, a person, or the government.
the southern hemisphere Geographic and political territory in the south-eastern and south-central sections of the United States that includes all of the states that sided with the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
unconstitutional Adjective that refers to a violation of the laws of the United States Constitution.
9th President of the United States of America, William Henry HarrisonNoun (1773-1841). (1841). word-of-mouth Informal communication, sometimes known as rumor or rumor mill. NounA official order issued by a government or other authoritative body.
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Mary Schons is a writer who lives in New York City.
Kara West, Emdash Editing, Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing
Kara West, Emdash Editing, Jeannie Evers, and Emdash Publishing
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