What Did They Eat On The Underground Railroad? (TOP 5 Tips)

Welcome to Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie’s personal website We do no that most runaways across the Americas survived on a diet of foraged plants, berries, herbs, and small game like rabbits and squirrels, fish and oysters. Below is a simple African American Maryland recipe made from a foraged plant.

What was the Underground Railroad and how did it work?

  • During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally. It was not an actual railroad, but it served the same purpose—it transported people long distances.

What did people eat in 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.

What food did Harriet Tubman eat?

During the Civil War, Tubman worked as a nurse and a spy, but supplemented her income by running an eating-house in Beaufort. There, she sold Union soldiers root beer, pie and ginger bread, which she baked during the night, after her day’s work.

What food did the slaves eat?

Weekly food rations — usually corn meal, lard, some meat, molasses, peas, greens, and flour — were distributed every Saturday. Vegetable patches or gardens, if permitted by the owner, supplied fresh produce to add to the rations. Morning meals were prepared and consumed at daybreak in the slaves’ cabins.

How many meals did slaves get a day?

In ordinary times we had two regular meals in a day: breakfast at twelve o’clock, after laboring from daylight, and supper when the work of the remainder of the day was over. In harvest season we had three.

What did Harriet Tubman eat on the Underground Railroad?

Welcome to Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie’s personal website We do no that most runaways across the Americas survived on a diet of foraged plants, berries, herbs, and small game like rabbits and squirrels, fish and oysters. Below is a simple African American Maryland recipe made from a foraged plant.

What kind of meat did slaves eat?

Faunal remains in excavations have confirmed that livestock such as pigs and cows were the principal components of slaves’ meat diets. Other sites show remnants of wild species such as opossum, raccoon, snapping turtle, deer, squirrel, duck, and rabbit.

What herbs did Harriet Tubman use?

Bradford in her 1886 biography Harriet: The Moses of Her People. Serving in Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., Tubman used home remedies learned from her mother, boiling cranesbill and lily roots to make a bitter-tasting brew to treat malignant fever, smallpox, and other infectious diseases.

Why did Harriet Tubman carry a chicken?

She once took the precaution of carrying two chickens with her. When she felt in danger because she recognized a former master, she released the chickens and chased them to recapture them. This amused the master, who never realized the ineffectual chicken chaser was, in fact, a cunning slave stealer.

What did Maryland slaves eat?

Almost everything was grown in hills, and sweet potatoes –often white or yellow–were a key starch in the diet of enslaved Marylanders after corn.

How many calories did slaves eat?

For example, an active male slave weighing about 140 pounds would have needed about 3,600 calories a day – far more than would have been provided by his ration of corn. When meat was provided, slaves got the least desirable cuts, typically heads, vertebrae, ribs, and feet.

How did soul food come about?

Soul food takes its origins mostly from Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, a collection of states commonly referred to as the Deep South. During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, enslaved African people were given meager food rations that were low in quality and nutritional value.

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.

How long did slaves live?

As a result of this high infant and childhood death rate, the average life expectancy of a slave at birth was just 21 or 22 years, compared to 40 to 43 years for antebellum whites. Compared to whites, relatively few slaves lived into old age.

Eating on the Underground Railroad — Food Blog

Our knowledge of the underground railroad derives from slave narratives, autobiographies, runaway reports that William Stills chronicled (see below), and stories that have appeared in newspapers. Examples include the heroic return of revolutionary Harriet Tubman to the southern border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Virginia to guide enslaved people out of slavery (among other things). However, the exact number of times she performed this, as well as the number of persons she helped find freedom, is unknown.

The following is a straightforward African American Maryland dish that uses a foraged plant.

Cold water should be used to completely clean.

Drain and toss with melted butter, pepper, salt, and drawn butter while still hot (or hollandaise sauce).

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Recipes from John S. Mattox, Curator, Underground Railroad Museum : Education : Underground Railroad Museum : Lest We Forget

John S. Mattox is the curator of this exhibition.


Flushing, Ohio is a city in the state of Ohio. UGRRF’s telephone number is (740) 968-2080, and their email address is [email protected]


At least in part because rice was farmed locally in South Carolina and because many of the slaves originated from a rice-growing region in Africa, rice was a particularly popular food item in the state. HoppingJohn is one of the more well-known and widely distributed of these recipes. Hopping John is a slang term that refers to a person who is hopping. A handful of cooked cowpeas (black-eyed peas) that have been soaked overnight are combined with one onion, parsley, and a laurel leaf to make this dish.

  • Add two cupfuls of uncooked rice that has been thoroughly rinsed.
  • A quarter pound of well-fried sausage, a slice of ham, and two slices of well-fried bacon, all chopped into bits and cooked, are then added.
  • Cover tightly, taking care not to allow it to burm at the bottom.
  • Tastes for foods such as yams, rice, and pea nuts were brought over from Africa and brought to this country without any interruption.

In this meal, which should be classified as a sweet snack rather than a dessert, coconut, a prevalent item in the areas of Africa where many slaves were brought, is combined with rice. The consumption of desserts after a full dinner is not frequent in African cuisine.

Rice Balls – Nigeria

2 cups of white rice that has been cooked 1 egg2 tablespoons coconut that has been freshly shredded 1/4 cup granulated sugar For frying, use a mixture of half coconut oil and half peanut oil. Place the rice in a large mixing basin and stir in the egg, coconut, and sugar. The rice mixture should be firm enough to shape into little balls when it is finished cooking. If the mixture is too loose, add a small amount of flour to help it hold together; if it is too firm, add a small amount of water to loosen it up.

  1. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan until it reaches 375 degrees.
  2. Fry them for five minutes, rotating them halfway through to ensure that they are browned on all sides, until they are crispy.
  3. Because African ingredients were not always readily accessible, black southern cooksoften resorted to using the American counterpart that was readily available to them instead.
  4. Even though most people are familiar with the sweet potato in one form or another, African-American cooks employed it in a variety of ways.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 cups of sweet potatoes mashed up 1 tablespoon of melted butter 2 cups all-purpose flour1 tablespoon light brown sugar season with salt to taste 14 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional) a pinch of nutmeg that has been freshly ground a quarter teaspoon of baking soda a third of a cup of buttermilk 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice 375 degrees Fahrenheit and gently grease two baking sheets in preparation of the dish Mix the mashed sweet potatoes and butter with the dry ingredients in a large mixing dish.

To reach the desired consistency, you may need to add a little amount of more flour.

Make biscuits by rolling out the dough on a floured surface until it is approximately 1/2 inch thick and cutting them out with a biscuit cutter or a water glass.

Hoe Cakes

1 cup ground corn meal a half teaspoon of salt Bringing water to a boil Combine the meal and salt in a large mixing bowl, then add enough hot water to produce a soft dough. Using a flat spoon or knife, spread the dough out in a frying pan that has been properly buttered. Cook until the potatoes are golden brown. Cook the opposite side of the cake while turning it. Serve while the food is still hot.

Combine with black-eyed peas for a filling meal. Category:Education|Subcategory:Underground Railroad Museum|Tags: Underground Railroad Museum This page does not have any tags associated with it. Topics / Keywords / Phrases that are related to Ohio, railroad, South Carolina,

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals – many whites but predominently black – who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. Still, it effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year – according to one estimate,the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850. An organized system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes.” The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed “The Underground Railroad,” after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called “stations” and “depots” and were run by “stationmasters,” those who contributed money or goods were “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.For the slave, running away to the North was anything but easy. The first step was to escape from the slaveholder. For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources. Sometimes a “conductor,” posing as a slave, would enter a plantation and then guide the runaways northward. The fugitives would move at night. They would generally travel between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, hiding in barns and other out-of-the-way places. While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its stationmaster.The fugitives would also travel by train and boat – conveyances that sometimes had to be paid for. Money was also needed to improve the appearance of the runaways – a black man, woman, or child in tattered clothes would invariably attract suspicious eyes. This money was donated by individuals and also raised by various groups, including vigilance committees.Vigilance committees sprang up in the larger towns and cities of the North, most prominently in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. In addition to soliciting money, the organizations provided food, lodging and money, and helped the fugitives settle into a community by helping them find jobs and providing letters of recommendation.The Underground Railroad had many notable participants, including John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.
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What was the Underground Railroad? : Harriet Tubman

The Underground Railroad was established in the early nineteenth century and reached its zenith between 1850 and 1860, when it was at its most active. It’s possible that reliable numbers on fleeing slaves who used the Underground Railroad may never be discovered because so much of what we know now comes from narratives written after the Civil War. Between 1810 and 1860, it is estimated that over 100,000 slaves managed to escape using the network. In the upper south, the bulk of slaves were transported from slave states that bordered free states such as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland; very few slaves were transported from the Deep South.

Various Underground Railroad routes were discovered.

Why was it called Underground Railroad?

Beginning in the early nineteenth century and reaching its zenith between 1850 and 1860, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes for escaping slaves. Much of what we know now comes from narratives written after the Civil War, and it is possible that reliable data on fleeing slaves who used the Underground Railroad will never be discovered. Between 1810 and 1860, it is estimated that around 100,000 slaves escaped using the network. Only a small number of slaves managed to escape from the Deep South, which was mostly composed of slave states bordering free states such as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland.

Various Underground Railroad routes were identified.


With no clearly defined routes, the Underground Railway was a loosely structured network of linkages rather than a well-organized network of connections. They assisted slaves in their journey to freedom by providing them with housing and transportation. Small groups of supporters were formed independently; the majority of them were familiar with a few connecting stations but were unfamiliar with the complete trip. This technique maintained the confidentiality of those participating while also reducing the likelihood of infiltration.

There was no one path, and there were most likely a number of them.

These locations are listed on the website of the National Park Service.

The majority of them traveled on foot and hid in barns or other out-of-the-way locations such as basements and cupboards.

In major cities such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, committees were created to address the issue. These committees generated cash to assist fugitives in resettling by providing them with temporary lodging and employment referrals.

Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Until 1850, fugitives had a minimal probability of being apprehended while residing in free states. Following the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Actas part of the Compromise of 1850, the Underground Railroad was diverted to Canada as its final objective, with the United States being the final destination. In newly constructed settlements in Southern Ontario, tens of thousands of slaves were resettled. In an instant, their work became more difficult and perhaps dangerous. A $1000 fine or six months in jail was imposed on anybody who assisted slaves.

Slave catchers were lavishly compensated, and even free African Americans were subjected to re-education through the destruction of their free documents.

The end of the Underground Railroad

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Confederate states of the United States of America. Following the war’s conclusion, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1865, thereby ending slavery in the whole United States and putting an end to the Underground Railroad’s operations throughout the country.

Supporters of the Underground Railroad

Black and white abolitionists, free blacks, Native Americans, and religious organizations such as the Religious Society of Friends, often known as Quakers and Congregationalists, were among those who sympathized with the network’s goals and objectives. It was the Quakers in Pennsylvania that issued the first demand for the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1688. Levi Coffin, William Still, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Garrett, Samuel Burris, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, Joh Brown, Anderson Ruffin Abbott, Henry Brown, Obadiah Bush, Asa Drury, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Samuel Green, Gerrit Smith, Lucretia Coffin Mott, and Jermain Loguen are just a few of the most well-known supporters of the Underground Railroad: Levi Coffin, William Still, Frederick More information on the history of the Underground Railroad may be found at the following websites.

From the National Park Service’s Freedom Sites Network The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located in Washington, D.C.

Under the categories of “popular” and “underground railroad,”


The right to be free is something that most people take for granted. As we get out of bed in the morning and head to wherever we want or need to go, there are millions of individuals across the world who are unable to do so. Many of them are figuratively slaves, working long, torturous hours in horrific conditions, being beaten into submission, and receiving no remuneration for their efforts. In America, slavery was regarded ‘legal’ from 1619, when the country was still a collection of English colonies, until the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified in 1865, when the country became a nation.

By the first decades of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of slaveholders and slaves were concentrated in the southern states of the United States.

By the time of the Civil War, the Deep South was home to the vast majority of slaves. It was physically back-breaking – and at times soul-destroying – labor, and many slaves would go to any length to break free from their chains of servitude if they had the opportunity.

Following the Civil War, some slaves – especially in the Northern states – were either released or offered the opportunity to purchase their freedom before Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation in 1865. Furthermore, slavery had already been abolished in the majority of Northern states, establishing them as ‘free’ states. A large part of this organized division between the States was initially caused by the Missouri Compromise, which was an agreement reached in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories.

  1. Abolition of slavery was declared throughout the formerLouisiana Territory, with the exception of areas inside the limits of the projected State of Missouri.
  2. Many were unsuccessful and suffered terribly as a result of their captivity.
  3. Most of them traveled on the ‘Underground Railroad,’ which consisted of secret routes and safe houses, to reach freedom in places such as Mexico and the United Kingdom with the assistance of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to the slaves’ cause in the United States and Canada.
  4. Despite being pursued by his owner in a boat, Tice successfully swam across the Ohio River.
  5. At first, it was assumed that Tice had drowned, but subsequently conceded that he had simply vanished, claiming that Tice “must have gone off on an underground road.” Tice is said to have been hidden and aided in his escape by local abolitionists.
  6. There is still disagreement among historians as to whether or not this assertion is accurate.
  7. Fugitive slave laws were established in 1793 and 1850, respectively, mandating that fugitive slaves be returned to their masters and conferring legal authority on slave-catchers – even in free states – were both passed in the United States.
  8. The Fugitive Act of 1850 did not just apply to fugitive slaves, but also to other fugitive individuals.

“Certificates of Freedom,” which were signed and notarized documents attesting to the free status of individual Blacks, were readily destroyed, and so provided little protection to the people who had them.

Those apprehended and brought before a special magistrate known as a commissioner under the rules of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 were denied the right to a jury trial and were prohibited from testifying on their own behalf. In terms of the law, they were not guilty of any crime. Simply taking an oath would be sufficient for the marshal or private slavecatcher to obtain a writ of replevin for the restoration of property. Despite these restrictions, the Underground Railroad prospered. It was neither an underground network, nor was it a train, that served as an escape route.

  1. The Underground Railroad was made up of meeting locations, hidden routes, transportation, and safe homes, as well as support from abolitionist allies and sympathizers.
  2. In order to avoid capture, escaped slaves would go north along the route, stopping at several way stations along the way.
  3. In the railroad industry, “conductors” came from a variety of backgrounds, including free-born Black people, White abolitionists, former slaves, and Native Americans.
  4. The Black conductors would occasionally pose as a slave in order to gain entry onto a plantation.
  5. Slaves would travel to and from each station at night, covering around 10–20 miles on foot or in a false-bottom wagon, with some traveling by boat or train.
  6. During the day, they would stop and relax at the stations, where they would be stowed away in secret compartments and behind bales of hay.
Hidden Room in the Bedroom of an Underground Railroad Station

A message was sent from one station to another while the runaways were taking a break, informing the station master that they were on their way to the next. The communications were frequently encoded in such a way that they could only be deciphered by individuals who were involved in the railroad industry. If, for example, you receive the message “I have dispatched via at two o’clock four huge hams and two little hams,” it means that you have four people and two children who have been sent from Harrisburg to Philadelphia on the 2 p.m.

Additionally, there is a suggestion that quilts were used to notify and steer slaves to safe havens and help.

As a kind of nonverbal communication, the quilts were put one at a time on fences or window ledges in order to notify escape slaves.

The code served a twofold purpose: first, it was used to alert slaves to prepare for escape, and second, it was used to provide clues and identify travel directions. Some quilt experts, however, are skeptical about this hypothesis.

However, another theory about how the encoded messages were delivered is that they were delivered through Negro Spirituals, such as “Steal Away” and “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” whose coded information assisted the escaped slaves in their journey along The Underground Railroad (also known as the Underground Railroad of the South). Scholars, on the other hand, have challenged this view, arguing that while the songs may have represented desire for freedom from the slaves’ miseries, they did not provide literal assistance to runaway slaves.

Whether the contested assertions are genuine or not, they have gone to their graves with the fugitive slaves and abolitionists who were executed for their crimes.

The slaves were apprehended using whatever means necessary, and prizes were placed on their heads since, in the eyes of the slave masters, they had lost their property – property that generated income for the slave masters and their families.

There were a large number of persons who assisted the slaves in their quest for freedom.

Allan Pinkerton, a Scottish immigrant who supervised an underground depot at his cooper’s shop near Chicago before launching his now-famous Pinkerton security agency; JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, a Quaker poet who provided a forceful voice to the abolition cause; JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER JOSIAH HENSON, a Black slave overseer who later became an escaped slave who fled to Canada and assisted other slaves in evading capture; The Underground Railroad was founded by THOMAS GARRETT, a Wilmington, Delaware businessman who assisted more than 2,700 slaves in their journey to freedom; and MARYANNSHADD, the daughter of a Black agent in the Wilmington, Delaware Underground Railroad Abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, one of the earliest and most passionate, who dedicated his life to speaking out against slavery; Jonathan Walker, who was imprisoned for aiding seven slaves in sailing from Florida to the Bahamas, and who was branded on the hand with the initials SS for “Slave Stealer;” and others who were imprisoned for their actions.

See also:  When Does When Did Slaves Started To Escape Out Of The Underground Railroad? (TOP 5 Tips)

In addition to his involvement in the Underground Railroad in Indiana and Ohio, Levi Coffin was a Quaker, an abolitionist, and a successful businessman whose mansion in Indiana was commonly referred to as the “Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.” Because of the more than 3,000 slaves who are claimed to have gone under his care while attempting to flee their owners, he was given the label “President of the Underground Railroad.” JOHN FAIRFIELD was born into a slave-holding family in Virginia, but he grew dissatisfied with his family’s way of life as he grew older.

When he was twenty years old, he assisted a boyhood buddy in escaping from his uncle’s farm, which led to his being transported to Ohio.

His print business in Rochester, New York, served as a depot for the Underground Railroad; and HARRIET TUBMAN, herself a runaway slave, who made 19 journeys into the South and guided more than 300 slaves to freedom during the Civil War.

Pauline Hopkins, a well-known Black author who lived around the turn of the century, paid tribute to Tubman in the following words: “Harriet Tubman, despite the fact that she was one of the world’s poorest people, possessed a level of heroism in her character that was rarely seen in people of any social standing.

Who knows what Black History might have looked like today if it hadn’t been for these individuals.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for Honey Cornbread Muffins that’s also tasty.

Muffins made with honey and cornmeal PatGina Neely of Down Home with the Neelys on the Food Network contributed to this article.

  • Each and every one of these abolitionists, known and unknown, free and chained, never took the concept of ‘freedom’ for granted. Who knows what Black History might have looked like today if it hadn’t been for these individuals. Roasted sweet and white potatoes, jerked meat, fruit, and cornmeal were some of the staples of the fugitive slaves’ trip meals. This recipe for Honey Cornbread Muffins is easy and tasty. Enjoy! Muffins made with honey and cornmeal. PatGina Neely of Down Home with the Neelys on the Food Network contributed this recipe. Ingredients:

The following special equipment is required: paper muffin cups and a 12-cup muffin pan Cooking Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a large mixing basin. In a separate dish, mix together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are barely combined. In a 12-cup muffin tray, line the cups with muffin paper liners. Divide the cornbread mixture between the sheets in an even layer.

RESOURCES: Wikipedia, National Geographic, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, OhioHistory Central, Fold 3, Underground Railroad Experience, Google, Bing, Food Network, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center A Quaker educator who advocated for temperance, women’s rights, and abolition before going on to become a leader in the struggle for women’s suffrage;

What did the slaves eat on the underground railroad?

Make an effort to incorporate an escaped slave cuisine into your diet. For example, Frederick Douglass, the freed slave and abolitionist, stated in 1845: “The men and women slaves were given an allowance of eight pounds of pork, or its equal in fish, and one bushel of corn meal each month as a monthly ration of food.” We should try to prepare some sort of cuisine, but in a more healthy manner. One of the dishes included black eyed peas. Almost everyone in the South will tell you that it dates back to the American Civil War.

  • General Sherman’s Union forces did not consider the peas to be worthy of their attention.
  • The Confederates felt themselves fortunate to have been left with such little supplies and to have made it through the winter.
  • Slaves were also provided with black-eyed peas, as were the majority of other customary New Year’s dishes.
  • According to one interpretation of the superstition, black-eyed peas were all that the slaves in the southern United States had to rejoice with on the first day of January, 1863.
  • That was the day on which the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and became official.
  • Many people believe that, because the southern United States has traditionally been a farming region, black-eyed peas are just a delicious dish to enjoy throughout the winter months.
  • Wikipedia is the earliest explanation for this ritual that I could find.
  • Eating a poor meal such as black-eyed peas, it was believed, demonstrated humility before the gods, and resulted in you being blessed during the Pharaohs’ reign.
  • It was held in same fashion: individuals who consumed black-eyes demonstrated their humility and therefore rescued themselves from the wrath of God.

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.

Stations were the names given to the safe homes that were utilized as hiding places along the routes of the Underground Railroad. 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.

  1. Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
  5. Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
  6. He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
  7. 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.


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.

  1. They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  2. Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
  3. Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
  4. 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!
  5. She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
  6. He went on to write a novel.
  7. 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.
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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.

6 Strategies Harriet Tubman and Others Used to Escape Along the Underground Railroad

He was born into slavery in Kentucky in the year 1815, and he was the son of a slave owner named Henry Bibb. 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 multiple times. It was only through his determination that he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then to Canada with the help of the Underground Railroad, a feat that had been highly anticipated.

  • For my own personal liberty, I made a decision somewhere during the autumn or winter of 1837 that I would try to flee to Canada if at all feasible.” Immediately after, I began preparing for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the chains that kept me a prisoner in my own home.
  • I also purchased a suit that I had never worn or been seen in before, in order to escape discovery.
  • It was the twenty-fifth of December, 1837.
  • My moral bravery was tested to the limit when I left my small family and tried to keep my emotions under wraps at all times.
  • No matter how many opportunities were presented to me to flee if I wanted to be free, and the call of liberty was booming in my own spirit, ‘Be free!
  • A thousand barriers had formed around my mind, attempting to bind my wounded spirit, which was still imprisoned in the dark dungeon of mental degradation.
  • It was difficult to break free from my deep bonds to friends and relatives, as well as the love of home and birthplace that is so natural among the human family, which were entwined around my heart and made it difficult to go forward.
  • But I’d calculated the cost and was completely prepared to make the sacrifice before I started the process.

If I don’t want to be a slave, I’ll have to abandon friends and neighbors, along with my wife and child.” I was given something to eat by these gracious folks, who then set me on my way to Canada on the advise of a buddy who had met me along the road.” This marked the beginning of the construction of what was referred to be the underground rail track from the United States to the Canadian continent.

In the morning, I walked with bold courage, trusting in the arm of Omnipotence; by night, I was guided by the unchangeable North Star, and inspired by the elevated thought that I was fleeing from a land of slavery and oppression, waving goodbye to handcuffs, whips, thumb-screws, and chains, and that I was on my way to freedom.

I continued my journey vigorously for nearly forty-eight hours 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, being pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not being able to find a house in which to take shelter from the storm.” Among the countless accounts recorded by escaped slaves is this one, which is only one example.

Sojourner Truth, a former slave who became well-known for her efforts to bring slavery to an end, was another person who came from a slave background.

Green and many others, including Josiah Henson, authored autobiographies in which they described their own personal journeys.

The writing down of one’s experiences by so many escaped slaves may have been done in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or it may have been done in order to help individuals learn from their mistakes in the aim of building a brighter future.

1: Getting Help

Harriet Tubman, maybe around the 1860s. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. No matter how brave or brilliant they were, few enslaved individuals were able to free themselves without the assistance of others. Even the smallest amount of assistance, such as hidden instructions on how to get away and who to trust, may make a significant difference. The most fortunate, on the other hand, were those who followed so-called “conductors,” like as Harriet Tubman, who, after escaping slavery in 1849, devoted her life to the Underground Railroad.

Tubman, like her other conductors, built a network of accomplices, including so-called “stationmasters,” who helped her hide her charges in barns and other safe havens along the road.

She was aware of which government officials were receptive to bribery.

Among other things, she would sing particular tunes or impersonate an owl to indicate when it was time to flee or when it was too hazardous to come out of hiding.

2: Timing

Tubman developed a number of other methods during the course of her career to keep her pursuers at arm’s length. For starters, she preferred to operate during the winter months when the longer evenings allowed her to cover more land. Also, she wanted to go on Saturday because she knew that no announcements about runaways would appear in the papers until the following Monday (since there was no paper on Sunday.) Tubman carried a handgun, both for safety and to scare people under her care who were contemplating retreating back to civilization.

The railroad engineer would subsequently claim that “I never drove my train off the track” and that he “never lost a passenger.” Tubman frequently disguised herself in order to return to Maryland on a regular basis, appearing as a male, an old lady, or a middle-class free black, depending on the occasion.

  1. They may, for example, approach a plantation under the guise of a slave in order to apprehend a gang of escaped slaves.
  2. Some of the sartorial efforts were close to brilliance.
  3. They traveled openly by rail and boat, surviving numerous near calls along the way and eventually making it to the North.
  4. After dressing as a sailor and getting aboard the train, he tried to trick the conductor by flashing his sailor’s protection pass, which he had obtained from an accomplice.

Enslaved women have hidden in attics and crawlspaces for as long as seven years in order to evade their master’s unwelcome sexual approaches. Another confined himself to a wooden container and transported himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, where abolitionists were gathered.

4: Codes, Secret Pathways

Circa 1887, Harriet Tubman (far left) is shown with her family and neighbors at her home in Auburn, New York. Photograph courtesy of MPI/Getty Images The Underground Railroad was almost non-existent in the Deep South, where only a small number of slaves were able to flee. While there was less pro-slavery attitude in the Border States, individuals who assisted enslaved persons there still faced the continual fear of being ratted out by their neighbors and punished by the law enforcement authorities.

In the case of an approaching fugitive, for example, the stationmaster may get a letter referring to them as “bundles of wood” or “parcels.” The terms “French leave” and “patter roller” denoted a quick departure, whilst “slave hunter” denoted a slave hunter.

5: Buying Freedom

The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, functioned openly and shamelessly for long of its duration, despite the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which prescribed heavy fines for anybody proven to have helped runaways. Stationmasters in the United States claimed to have sheltered thousands of escaped slaves, and their activities were well documented. A former enslaved man who became a stationmaster in Syracuse, New York, even referred to himself in writing as the “keeper of the Underground Railroad depot” in his hometown of Syracuse, New York.

At times, abolitionists would simply purchase the freedom of an enslaved individual, as they did in the case of Sojourner Truth.

Besides that, they worked to sway public opinion by funding talks by Truth and other former slaves to convey the miseries of bondage to public attention.

6. Fighting

The Underground Railroad volunteers would occasionally band together in large crowds to violently rescue fleeing slaves from captivity and terrify slave catchers into going home empty-handed if all else failed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, John Brown was one among those who advocated for the use of brutal force. Abolitionist leader John Brown led a gang of armed abolitionists into Missouri before leading a failed uprising in Harpers Ferry, where they rescued 11 enslaved individuals and murdered an enslaver.

Brown was followed by pro-slavery troops throughout the voyage.

Pathways to Freedom

Why did enslaved people run away?Enslaved people ran away for many reasons. Slavery was very cruel. The life of the enslaved was not a happy one. Many enslaved people were beaten and tortured. Often enslaved families were torn apart when the members were sold to different owners. Some enslaved people did not have enough to eat, warm clothes, or a decent place to live. Sometimes enslaved people ran away because they were going to be sold. Enslaved people especially dreaded being “sold South” because life further south was even harder than life in Maryland.

They wanted to be free to live where they chose, to get an education and, especially, to stay with their families.

This free black man, whose mother had come from Maryland, received many fugitives.

You canread excerpts from William Still’s diary. As you read, remember that people wrote and spoke a bit differently in the 19th century.What kind of people worked with the Underground Railroad?«back to About home

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