What Does The North Star Mean In Underground Railroad Hidden Message? (TOP 5 Tips)

Why did the Underground Railroad have secret codes?

  • Underground Railroad Secret Codes Supporters of the Underground Railroad used words railroad conductors employed everyday to create their own code as secret language in order to help slaves escape. Railroad language was chosen because the railroad was an emerging form of transportation and its communication language was not widespread.

What did the slaves call the North Star?

What are some other ways escaping slaves could determine where “north” was? One of the best clues they could use to find north was to locate the North Star. The North Star is also called Polaris.

What were the Underground Railroad secret code words?

The code words often used on the Underground Railroad were: “tracks” (routes fixed by abolitionist sympathizers); “stations” or “depots” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “agents” (sympathizers who helped the slaves connect to the Railroad); “station masters” (those who hid slaves in

What was the North Star by Frederick Douglass?

Douglass founded and edited his first antislavery newspaper, The North Star, beginning December 3, 1847. The title referred to the bright star, Polaris, that helped guide those escaping slavery to the North.

What was the secret password that escaping slaves used on their journey north?

What was the secret password that escaping slaves used on their journey north? The secret password that escaping slaves used on their journey north was Friend with friends.

What is the symbol of the North Star?

The North Star is the anchor of the northern sky. It is a landmark, or sky marker, that helps those who follow it determine direction as it glows brightly to guide and lead toward a purposeful destination. It also has a symbolic meaning, for the North Star depicts a beacon of inspiration and hope to many.

What does it mean to follow the North Star?

When you find your North Star, you know where you’re headed. Plus, your North Star is (presumably) wholesome and vital, so aiming toward it will bring more and more happiness and benefit to yourself and others.

Did slaves Follow the North Star?

In the years before and during the U.S. Civil War of the 1860s, escaped slaves fled northward, hiding by day and moving furtively at night. Often their only guide was Polaris, the North Star, which they found by tracing the handle of the Big Dipper constellation, or Drinking Gourd.

What does the code word liberty lines mean?

Other code words for slaves included “freight,” “passengers,” “parcels,” and “bundles.” Liberty Lines – The routes followed by slaves to freedom were called “liberty lines” or “freedom trails.” Routes were kept secret and seldom discussed by slaves even after their escape.

What was the symbol of the Underground Railroad?

The hoot of an owl was used to convey messages. Certain Songs were sung as symbols of Underground Railway members. “All Clear” was conveyed in safe houses using a lighted lantern in a certain place as this symbol. Knocks on doors used a coded series of taps as symbols of identity.

What did The North Star do?

As slave lore tells it, the North Star played a key role in helping slaves to find their way —a beacon to true north and freedom. Escaping slaves could find it by locating the Big Dipper, a well-recognized asterism most visible in the night sky in late winter and spring.

How did The North Star help Frederick Douglass?

The North Star, later Frederick Douglass’ Paper, antislavery newspaper published by African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. He emphasized that he did not want to seem ungrateful to people such as William Lloyd Garrison, a white abolitionist who published the antislavery paper The Liberator.

What did The North Star say?

The North Star’s slogan was: ” Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and all we are Brethren.”

Why did Harriet Tubman wear a bandana?

As was the custom on all plantations, when she turned eleven, she started wearing a bright cotton bandana around her head indicating she was no longer a child. She was also no longer known by her “basket name”, Araminta. Now she would be called Harriet, after her mother.

How were runaway slaves caught?

Other slaves seeking freedom relied upon canoes. Some runaways pretended to be free blacks, Native Americans, or whites. Runaway slaves who were caught typically were whipped and sometimes shackled. Some masters sold recovered runaway slaves who repeatedly defied their efforts at control.

How did Harriet Tubman get involved in the Underground Railroad?

The Underground Railroad and Siblings Tubman first encountered the Underground Railroad when she used it to escape slavery herself in 1849. Following a bout of illness and the death of her owner, Tubman decided to escape slavery in Maryland for Philadelphia.

North Star to Freedom (U.S. National Park Service)

Harriet Tubman as a young woman, around 1860s, seen in a seated picture. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. The National Park Service tells the story of Harriet Tubman, a former slave who became an abolitionist, the Underground Railroad, and the many great Americans who lived throughout the 1800s whose daring deeds carried slaves to freedom and contributed to the abolition of slavery. The National Park Service (NPS) looks on the significance of the night sky in the lives of the founding fathers of our country as we commemorate our nation’s freedom.

Traveling under the cover of darkness generally provided the finest opportunities for escape.

The capacity of a runaway to safely get to a safe house, railroad station, or the woods without the aid of these equipment was frequently a matter of life and death.

NPS According to slave legend, the North Star played an important role in assisting slaves in their quest for freedom, serving as a light to the true north.

  • This item’s form is similar to a dipping ladle or drinking gourd, as implied by its name.
  • For millennia, celestial navigation knowledge (navigating by studying the stars and other patterns in the night sky) was passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition.
  • Slaves were able to navigate their path without becoming disoriented as a result of this information.
  • Many slave narratives and ballads made use of the Big Dipper and the North Star as symbols of freedom.
  • The night sky is a canvas of storytelling that connects us to our ancestors and their history.

When you look up at the night sky, remember the story of the drinking gourd and those early Americans who placed their lives on the promise of freedom on a star. Follow the sheet music and fragments of the Drinking Gourd. The Texas Folklore Society was founded in 1928.

Follow the Drinking Gourd

When the light returns and the firs’ quail begin to call, you know it is time to go. Follow the drinkin’ gou’d wherever he goes. If you want to drink, you should drink; if you want to drink, you should drink. “Foller the drinkin gou’d,” said the elderly gentleman. The riva comes to an end between two hills,following the drinking gou’d; there is another riva on the opposite side. ‘Follers the drinkin gou’d,’ said the bartender. What’s up with the small riva? Meet the hulking colossus, Foller the drinkin’ gou’d is waiting for the elderly guy.

Learn more:

  • Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland
  • The Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
  • The Civil War
  • Exploring Night Skies in National Parks
  • Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland
  • In the night sky, there are signs of spring

Julie West, Communications Specialist for the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, contributed to this article.

Pathways to Freedom

Take the path of the Drinking Gourd. Slaves who managed to flee had to make their way north. States in the north, such as New York and Massachusetts, had active abolitionist societies and charitable organizations — both black and white — that were willing to assist runaway slaves. The last destination for the slaves was Canada, which was located north of the United States border. Abolition of slavery was not authorized in the country, and American laws that allowed citizens to apprehend fugitive slaves were of little use there either.

  • They were well aware that moss typically grew on the north faces of trees.
  • Finding the North Star was one of the most important indicators they could use to determine their location in the north.
  • It is unlike other stars in that it does not shift its position.
  • People have historically relied on a constellation of stars to guide them to the North Star.
  • People have said that the group resembles a Big Bear at times.
  • The Drinking Gourd was the name given to this group of stars by slaves.
  • The gourds had a similar appearance to long-handled cups.
  • It was possible for persons traveling at night to always find the North Star by looking for the “drinking gourd” in the sky.
  • Many people are familiar with the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” which was written in the 1960s.

It tells the story of those who escaped slavery by following clues to the north, where they found freedom. The song is a mashup of ancient concepts and fresh phrases created by a diverse group of musicians.

Underground Railroad Secret Codes : Harriet Tubman

Supporters of the Underground Railroad made use of the following words: Railroad conductors were hired on a daily basis to construct their own code as a secret language in order to assist slaves in escaping. The railroad language was chosen since it was a new mode of transportation at the time, and its communication language was not widely used. Secret code phrases would be used in letters sent to “agents” in order to ensure that if they were intercepted, they would not be apprehended. A form of Underground Railroad code was also utilized in slave songs to allow slaves to communicate with one another without their owners being aware of their activities.

Agent Coordinator, who plotted courses of escape and made contacts.
Baggage Fugitive slaves carried by Underground Railroad workers.
Bundles of wood Fugitives that were expected.
Canaan Canada
Conductor Person who directly transported slaves
Drinking Gourd Big Dipper and the North Star
Flying bondsmen The number of escaping slaves
Forwarding Taking slaves from station to station
Freedom train The Underground Railroad
French leave Sudden departure
Gospel train The Underground Railroad
Heaven Canada, freedom
Stockholder Those who donated money, food, clothing.
Load of potatoes Escaping slaves hidden under farm produce in a wagon
Moses Harriet Tubman
Operator Person who helped freedom seekers as a conductor or agent
Parcel Fugitives that were expected
Patter roller Bounty hunter hired to capture slaves
Preachers Leaders of and spokespersons for the Underground Railroad
Promised Land Canada
River Jordan Ohio River
Shepherds People who encouraged slaves to escape and escorted them
Station Place of safety and temporary refuge, a safe house
Station master Keeper or owner of a safe house

Following that will be Songs of the Underground Railroad. Underground Railroad codes, coded language, coded music, Underground Railroad followers, underground railroad, supporters of the Underground Railroad Underground Railroad is a subcategory of the category Underground Railroad.

Underground Railroad Terminology

Written by Dr. Bryan Walls As a descendant of slaves who traveled the Underground Railroad, I grew up enthralled by the stories my family’s “Griot” told me about his ancestors. It was my Aunt Stella who was known as the “Griot,” which is an African name that means “keeper of the oral history,” since she was the storyteller of our family. Despite the fact that she died in 1986 at the age of 102, her mind remained keen till the very end of her life. During a conversation with my Aunt Stella, she informed me that John Freeman Walls was born in 1813 in Rockingham County, North Carolina and journeyed on the Underground Railroad to Maidstone, Ontario in 1846.

  • Many historians believe that the Underground Railroad was the first big liberation movement in the Americas, and that it was the first time that people of many races and faiths came together in peace to fight for freedom and justice in the United States.
  • Escaped slaves, as well as those who supported them, need rapid thinking as well as a wealth of insight and information.
  • The Underground Railroad Freedom Movement reached its zenith between 1820 and 1865, when it was at its most active.
  • A Kentucky fugitive slave by the name of Tice Davids allegedly swam across the Ohio River as slave catchers, including his former owner, were close on his trail, according to legend.
  • He was most likely assisted by nice individuals who were opposed to slavery and wanted the practice to be abolished.
  • “He must have gotten away and joined the underground railroad,” the enraged slave owner was overheard saying.
  • As a result, railroad jargon was employed in order to maintain secrecy and confound the slave hunters.
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In this way, escaping slaves would go through the forests at night and hide during the daytime hours.

In order to satiate their hunger for freedom and proceed along the treacherous Underground Railroad to the heaven they sung about in their songs—namely, the northern United States and Canada—they took this risky route across the wilderness.

Despite the fact that they were not permitted to receive an education, the slaves were clever folks.

Freedom seekers may use maps created by former slaves, White abolitionists, and free Blacks to find their way about when traveling was possible during the day time.

The paths were frequently not in straight lines; instead, they zigzagged across wide places in order to vary their smell and confuse the bloodhounds on the trail.

The slaves could not transport a large amount of goods since doing so would cause them to become sluggish.

Enslaved people traveled the Underground Railroad and relied on the plant life they encountered for sustenance and medical treatment.

The enslaved discovered that Echinacea strengthens the immune system, mint relieves indigestion, roots can be used to make tea, and plants can be used to make poultices even in the winter when they are dormant, among other things.

After all, despite what their owners may have told them, the Detroit River is not 5,000 miles wide, and the crows in Canada will not peck their eyes out.

Hopefully, for the sake of the Freedom Seeker, these words would be replaced by lyrics from the “Song of the Fugitive: The Great Escape.” The brutal wrongs of slavery I can no longer tolerate; my heart is broken within me, for as long as I remain a slave, I am determined to strike a blow for freedom or the tomb.” I am now embarking for yonder beach, beautiful land of liberty; our ship will soon get me to the other side, and I will then be liberated.

No more will I be terrified of the auctioneer, nor will I be terrified of the Master’s frowns; no longer will I quiver at the sound of the dogs baying.

All of the brave individuals who were participating in the Underground Railroad Freedom Movement had to acquire new jargon and codes in order to survive. To go to the Promised Land, one needed to have a high level of ability and knowledge.


“I don’t go anywhere near the plantation. They will not be able to tell which direction is east and which way is west in this manner. Having discovered the location of another location, the next thing you know, they’ll have discovered the direction of travel to the north.” Mr. Ames, a slave overseer in Alex Haley’s novel “Roots,” says this of himself in the television adaptation of the novel. The line clearly demonstrates the desperate steps used by slave owners to restrict the number of escapees in the decades leading up to the American Civil War (Civil War).

  • Slaves were well aware that freedom lay to the north, and though their masters and overseers were unaware of this, slaves were well aware of how to identify certain clusters of stars in the night sky that marked the way north as reliably as a compass.
  • “Follow the Drinking Gourd” was an unique folk song that was sung by many people trapped in bondage in Alabama and Mississippi to disguise indications in the sky and other directions on how to get to the North.
  • In 1912, an amateur folklorist called H.B.
  • A refusal to provide an explanation was made in response to Parks’ inquiry.
  • Once again, the artist refused to provide an explanation for the puzzling lyrics.
  • This was sometime about 1918.
  • “Publications of the Texas Folklore Society,” according to Parks, was taught to slaves by an itinerant carpenter named Peg Leg Joe, according to his writings in an odd journal.

During his discussions with persons who were connected with the Underground Railroad, Parks gleaned some facts about the song that he used in his writing.

Following that, slaves from the districts where he had labored began to flee to the north.


In the words of the song and its interpretation: When the sun comes out again, And the first fowl calls, follow the Drinking Gourd to its destination.

The slaves are instructed to begin their journey north in late winter or early spring, according to the words.

It is in the early spring when migratory quail call because they had spent the winter in southern states.

“Follow the Drinking Gourd” is a phrase that refers to walking in the direction of the constellation.

Dead trees will direct you down the river bank, which provides for an excellent route.

According to this passage, the fugitive should proceed north along the bank of the Tombigbee River, which runs from the Gulf Coast of Alabama to the northern Mississippi border.

Follow the Drinking Gourd until the river comes to an end between two hills.

The third stanza directs slaves to travel north between the hills until they reach the Tennessee River, which they should then follow north.

Continue to follow the Drinking Gourd until the huge large river merges with the tiny river.

If you follow the Drinking Gourd’s instructions.

Illinois, a free state at the time, was located on the north bank of the Ohio River.

With a well-organized network of antislavery whites in the northern states by 1831, the Underground Railroad was focusing its efforts on operating in the southern states.

As a result, train personnel began traveling into the South in order to serve as guides or to offer route instructions.

The Civil War began in 1861 with an estimated 500 persons in the South each year to supply route instructions, and well-established “lines” out of the South were in operation by the time the war began.

It is difficult to get information about railroad activities in the South since there was so much secrecy surrounding them.

Escapees were forced to cross the Ohio River, which is much too large and rapid for most swimmers to make it across safely.

It is true that if a person reached the Ohio River in winter, the river was frequently frozen over and could be across quickly and without difficulty.

The distance from Mobile, Alabama, near the mouth of the Tombigbee River, to the junction of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers is approximately 800 miles in a straight line.

During the previous winter, the railroad urged slaves to leave in order to afford enough travel time.

In this fashion, the “line” served a huge population, with rivers serving as natural roads and the route finishing near to the beginning of many major railroad lines in the northern tier of the United States.

Song was frequently utilized to preserve and transmit knowledge in African tribal life before the emergence of written language.

The songs make use of the method of veiled language, which involves the use of phrases that appear benign but yet, to those who are privy of the secret, convey essential information.

This star, which is located almost precisely above the Earth’s North Pole, provides a better predictor of true north than even the most accurate compass.

In its unusual position, Polaris is unaffected by these movements and always seems to be pointing directly north.

This is accomplished by the use of the seven dazzling stars of the Big Dipper.

Using your imagination, draw a line from the star at the bottom of the bowl to the star at the top of the bowl.

As opposed to Polaris, the gourd is used in the song because slaves would not have written a song in which they openly used common names for stars or constellations.

Because both Polaris and freedom are located in the northern hemisphere, Polaris has come to represent freedom, and slaves have couched many other references to liberation in terms of a constellation.

Frederick Douglass, a former slave who rose to prominence as a writer, gave the name “The North Star” to his groundbreaking abolitionist newspaper.

Rall is a member of the Trenton-based staff of the New Jersey State Planetarium.

18, if you go to the Air and Space Museum in Houston.

on Saturday, April 13.

Botkin’s “A Treasury of Southern Folklore” was published by Crown Publishers in 1944.

Hippocrene Books published the book “Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad” by Charles L.

This song offers a list of all known railroad locations as well as additional code tunes.

Polaris is explained in detail, including the railroad and astronomical aspects.

The year is 1988, and the publisher is Alfred A.

It’s a wonderful children’s book that uses a fictional slave family to demonstrate how the song works.

CAPTION: The “Drinking Gourd,” often known as the Big Dipper, is a constellation that points to Polaris, the North Star. It would be possible to go north toward the “free states” without much further assistance if one followed the direction of the stars as a guide.

Following the North Star to Freedom

According to the New Testament, the Wise Men traveled over two thousand years ago to the location of the Saviour’s birthplace by following the North Star. Slaves fleeing bondage in the United States would likewise follow the North Star to Canada two thousand years later, bringing them to freedom in the country. The North Star, also known as Polaris, is the first and one of the brightest stars to show in the night sky, and it is also the most conspicuous. As the solitary star in the constellation that does not migrate across the sky or change position with the seasons, it always points in the direction of the northern hemisphere.

  • Each of the seven brilliant stars that make up the Big Dipper are arranged in the shape of a ladle with a curving handle.
  • It is the North Star that is pointed out by the two stars that make up the Big Dipper’s spilling edge.
  • On clear evenings, runaway slaves may readily see the North Star, but on overcast nights, or while fleeing through forests, swamps, or bayous, they must rely on tree moss to lead them.
  • In addition to relying on the North Star for guidance, fugitives depended on the Underground Railroad to ensure that they arrived safely at their final goal – freedom.
  • Tice Davids, a slave from Kentucky, escaped from his farm, with his master chasing after him.
  • Tice managed to make it to the shore while being pursued by his master in a boat.
  • According to the enraged slave-owner, Tice had gone right in front of his very eyes, perhaps fleeing on some sort of Underground Railroad.

A movement started by Quakers as early as 1676 (thanks to George Fox, the founder of Society of Friends, who is also known as the Father of Quakerism) in order to assist slaves in escaping their bondage in the United States to freedom in the free northern states and later to Canada by following the North Star was referred to as the Underground Railroad.

  • Although the Underground Railroad was not formally established until the early nineteenth century, slaves had been utilizing the same routes to flee slavery for decades before to that.
  • It was only under this statute that slave hunters were permitted to apprehend an escaped slave if the slave hunter confirmed orally before a state or federal judge that the slave was a fugitive.
  • It upset Southerners to learn that escaped slaves got support from so many different sources, and that they were able to live and work in the free Northern States and Canada.
  • The new Fugitive Slave Act made it both conceivable and profitable to pay slave catchers to track down and apprehend fugitive slaves who had gotten away.
  • Slaves were seen as property rather than individuals, and as such had no rights to life or liberty.
  • As a result, the free Black communities of the North suffered greatly, especially because the slave hunters frequently kidnapped legally freed Blacks as well as fugitives.
  • As a result, slaves utilized whatever means they could to try even harder to break free from their bonds of servitude.
  • This became the new destination for individuals fleeing slavery, and the Underground Railroad’s “stations” or “safe homes” served as resting places for those traveling all the way to Canada.
  • With the development of the steam train, terminology such as “Underground Railroad” were employed as code words to communicate with one another.
  • Levi Coffin, a Quaker, was the President of the Underground Railroad during its heyday.

Levi and his wife Catharine were instrumental in assisting hundreds of fugitive slaves via their efforts in the anti-slavery campaign. During a return to Canada in 1844, Levi met with several of the individuals he had assisted in their emancipation from slavery.

Information regarding escape routes was conveyed amongst slaves through the singing of spirituals containing concealed meanings. “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a song from the 1970s, encourages leaving in the springtime as the days become longer. Additionally, it is used to allude to quails, which begin calling to one another around April. The drinking gourd is really a water dipper, which is a code name for the Big Dipper, which is a constellation that points to the Pole Star in the direction of the north.

  • ” Wade in the Water, Children,” was a song written by Harriet Tubman to encourage slaves to jump into the water in order to avoid being traced.
  • In the hymn “Sweet Chariot,” a slave who hears it knows that he is about to be released; a band of angels is on its way to carry him to freedom.
  • This was one of Tubman’s favorite slave spirituals, and he sang it often.
  • Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in the year 1820 and became known as the “Black Moses” of her people.
  • Tubman would sing “Up with Moses” the day before she departed as a signal to the slaves that she was about to go on a journey to freedom.
  • Tubman spent around eight years in the city of St.
  • This outstanding woman battled for the rights of women and the elderly as well.
See also:  When Did Harriet Tubman Discover The Underground Railroad? (Professionals recommend)

Tubman holds the distinction of being the first and only woman to command American troops in a war.

There were three major routes used by the Underground Railroad.

Smuggling wanted people onto ships departing southern East Coast ports like as Charlestown, South Carolina, and Portsmouth, Virginia and going north was the second option available to the fugitives.

Refugees fleeing Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and even the Deep South took use of the western Underground Railroad route that followed the Mississippi River.

Fugitives who crossed the country by land would make a pit stop at one of the several ports in Detroit, Michigan.

According to historical records, around 30,000 slaves were known to have escaped from slavery in the southern United States during the Underground Railroad’s 20-year peak period between 1840 and 1860.

In 1865, the Underground Railroad was still in operation after the Civil War ended with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which effectively ended slavery in the United States.

Bounty hunters and discriminatory government policies constantly attempted to obstruct runaway slaves’ attempts to flee to freedom through the Underground Railroad, which may last for months or even years at a time.

Similar to their white American counterparts, many white Canadians had deeply racist attitudes about their new black neighbours.

But they were the exception rather than the rule.

Obtaining employment as a black man or woman was a challenging undertaking, and educational options for black people were limited.

So many fugitive slaves were forced to dwell in small black villages where poor living conditions and sanitation bred sickness that ultimately resulted in their deaths or incarceration.

This was especially true during the vital boom years of the 1870s, following the American Civil War.

Since then, black Canadians have formed a significant part of the country’s history.

(©Canada Post Corporation, copied with permission) (©Canada Post Corporation, copied with permission)

Canada’s identity, and possibly its very existence, will be remembered for as long as the descendants of fugitive slaves live on in their ancestors’ descendants.

Escaped Slaves Followed the North Star to Freedom

Throughout a session at the Conner Prairie interactive history site near Indianapolis, Indiana, depicting the treacherous journey to freedom faced by escaped southern slaves during the nineteenth century, visitors are immersed in history. In February, which is Black History Month in the United States, it is an unforgettable stroll in the woods that has a special significance for the participants. Follow the North Star is the name of the program. Follow the Drinking Gourd is a title borrowed from an old American Negro spiritual hymn of the same name.

  • During the years leading up to and during the United States Civil War in the 1860s, runaway slaves moved northward, hiding during the day and moving stealthily during the night.
  • However, even as they crossed the Ohio and Potomac rivers, they were in no way secure from danger.
  • That is the narrative that is being re-created at Connor Prairie in an ultra-realistic manner.
  • Participants of various races take on the role of blacks who have been picked up, split by sex into what the slavers refer to as bucks and breeders, and sold like livestock at auction to pay for their freedom.
  • The experience was summed up by a high-school student who said she learnt more about Civil War history there than she could have studied in any classroom.
  • At the conclusion of the program, each participant is informed of his or her status as a fugitive.
  • Others would have been among those slaughtered if they had been treated as slaves in the first place.
  • To be sure, just like in real life over two centuries ago, not every fugitive slave manages to make it to Canada and the certainty of freedom.

Underground Railroad Symbols: Secret Codes ***

Underground Railroad Symbols for kids: The Underground Railway HistoryThere were harsh penalties for runaway slaves and their helpers – refer to theFugitive Slave Act.Although slaves had been trying to escape from slavery for many years the name “Underground Railroad” only started to be used in 1831 followingthe religious revival of theSecond Great Awakeningwhich resulted in the1830 Abolitionist Movementwhich became active followingNat Turner’s Rebellionleading to the establishment of theUnderground Railroad.For additional information also refer toUnderground Railroad MapsUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids: The Name “Underground Railway”The term “Underground Railroad” was chosen in 1831 as a secret code name for the escape routes used by fugitive slaves. The reason the name was chosen was this date coincided withthe time the first railroads began to run in America – refer toAmerican Railroads.The word “underground” was added meaning a covert group organized to hide a secret operation.Underground Railroad Symbols for kids: Symbols and SignsThe”Underground Railroad”, operating under essential secrecy, adopted many symbols and signs that were made known to the fugitive slaves:● Passwords were used to ensure the fugitives were genuine ● Messages were sent by drumming stones together ● The hoot of an owl was used to convey messages ● Certain Songs were sung as symbols of Underground Railway members ● “All Clear” was conveyed in safe houses using a lighted lantern in a certain place as this symbol ● Knocks on doors used a coded series of taps as symbols of identity ● Certain items, such as a quilt, were hung on a clotheslineUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids: Quilt CodesUnsubstantiated theories has been offered that quilts were made containing Underground Railway symbols. The use of symbols on quilts were said to be an effective way for slaves to communicate nonverbally with each other andhelp each other to escape. This does make some sense in relation to quilts being hung on clotheslines. Symbols used to indicate routes:●Geese symbols flying North●Crossroads symbols that indicated Cleveland, Ohio●Bears Paw symbols conveying a message to take a mountain route●Bow tie symbols meaning it would be necessary to change from slave clothing●Broken dish symbols which would be used as directional symbols along the escape route● Symbols of log cabins told slaves to look for this symbol on their journey to freedom●Box symbols that indicated it was time to pack (box-up) ready to escape● Patterns called a monkey wrench were were symbols reminding slaves to prepare for the journey taking weapons or tools that would helpon their journey ● North Star symbols indicating the way to freedomUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids: The Secret Code NamesOnce the name”Underground Railroad”had been established, it was logical to use other secret words, phrases, codes, signs and symbols that referred to the operation of a real railroad. At this time everyone was talking about the new American railroad. It was essential to keep escape plans completely secret and by using these secret codes anyone who overheard such conversations would think they were talking about the railroad, not runaway slaves.Underground Railroad Symbols: The Secret Language of the “Underground Railway”The meaning of words and symbols used in the”Underground Railroad” relating to railways were as follows:Underground Railroad Symbols for kids – RailwaysWords, Signs and Symbols – Meaning and DefinitionUnderground Railroad -The name for the secret network of organizations and operations who helped slaves to escape slaveryRailroad Line -Line referred to the route from one safe house to anotherConductor -Conductors were those who guided fugitive slaves between safe housesStation master -The station master was the owner of a safe houseStation / Depot -Station and Depot were the secret names given to hiding places or safe houses used during escapesCargo / Freight -Cargo or Freight was the name given to fugitive slaves who received assistance from conductors on the Underground RailroadPassengers -Passengers was another name give to slaves traveling the escape routesBaggage -Baggage was another secret name for a fugitive slaveParcels -Term to indicate that fugitive slaves were on their way to a safe houseStockholders -The name given to abolitionists who donated money, food, shelter and clothing to the Underground RailwayTicket Agents -Agents was the name given to those who coordinated and planned escape routes. Slaves weregiven a ‘ticket’Operator or Engineer -Other names for a conductor (the guides)Jumping off place -Place of safe shelter for fugitive slavesPatty Rollers or Paddy Rollers -Patty Rollers, Pattyrollers or Paddy Rollers were slave catchers. Probably a derivation of patrollers but ‘Roller rigs’ was used for the investigation of steam locomotivesWords, Signs and Symbols-Meaning and DefinitionUnderground Railroad Symbols Facts for kids – RailwaysUnderground Railroad Symbols: Code words and phrases relating to ReligionJust as the American railroads provided secret words and symbols relating to the”Underground Railroad” it was also safe to apply religious words, signs and symbols to extend the vocabulary of the organization. Thewords, phrases and symbols used in the”Underground Railroad” relating to religion were as follows:Underground Railroad Symbols for kids – ReligiousWords, Signs and Symbols-Meaning and DefinitionCanaan -Canaan was a biblical term used to mean CanadaHeaven -The word used to describe the destination of a fugitive, usually referring to CanadaPreachers -Abolitionists or leaders of the”Underground Railroad”River Jordan -The secret code word for the Ohio RiverShepherds -Shepherds were alternative names for Conductors meaning those who guided fugitive slaves between safe housesMoses -Moses was the code name of Harriet Tubman, the most famous conductorGospel Songs -Gospel songs like “Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus”, “Swing low, sweet chariot” and “Wade in the Water” were used to indicate that an escape plan was about to be carried out or give reminders to use water to travel by. The song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” was a reminder to follow the North Star – as this would always lead the way to freedomWords, Signs and Symbols-Meaning and DefinitionUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids – ReligiousUnderground Railroad Symbols: Other Code words and phrasesOther secret words, phrases and symbols relating to the”Underground Railroad” were also used to extend the vocabulary of the network as follows:Underground Railroad Symbols and PhrasesPhrases-Meaning and Definition”The river bank makes a mighty good road” -A reminder to travel by water”The wind blows from the South today” -An alert that fugitive slaves were in the area”The dead trees will show you the way” -A reminder that moss grows on the North side of dead trees useful when the stars were not visible”Left foot, peg foot” -A description of a certain conductor”The friend of a friend sent me” -Password used by slave fugitivesPhrases-Meaning and DefinitionUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids – ReligiousUnderground Railroad Symbols: Other Useful Words and PhrasesOther useful words and phrases associated with the”Underground Railroad” are as follows:Underground Railroad – Meaning of Useful Words and PhrasesWords and Phrases-Meaning and DefinitionAbolitionist -A social reformer in favor of abolishing slaveryAntebellum -Antebellum is the name given to historical era that preceded the Civil WarEmancipation -Emancipation is the act of setting a person free from slaveryManumission -Manumission the formal act of freeing from slavery.A written legal document freeing a person from slaveryFree States -Free States that did not allow slaverySlave States -Slave States permitted slaveryThe Mason-Dixon Line -The Mason-Dixon Line is the boundary line dividing the northern free states from the southern slave statesThe ‘Gag rule’-TheGag Rulewas a provision that prevented the discussion of a topic in Congress, such as abolishing slaverySecession -Secessionwas the withdrawal of eleven Southern states from the Union in 1860 which precipitated the American Civil WarFugitive Slave Law -The Fugitive Slave Laws were acts passed by Congress in 1793 and 1850 outlawing any efforts to impede the capture of runaway slavesMulatto -A word used to describe a child of a black person and a white personWords and Phrases-Meaning and DefinitionUnderground Railroad – Meaning of Useful Words and PhrasesBlack History for kids: Important People and EventsFor visitors interested in African American History refer toBlack History – People and Events.A useful resourcefor teachers, kids, schools and colleges undertaking projects for the Black History Month.Underground Railroad Symbols for kids – President Andrew Jackson VideoThe article on the Underground Railroad Symbols provides an overview of one of the Important issues of his presidential term in office. The following Andrew Jackson video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 7th American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837.Underground Railroad Symbols● Interesting Facts about Underground Railroad Symbols for kids ● Underground Railroad Symbols for kids ● The Underground Railroad Symbols, a Important event in US history ● Andrew Jackson Presidency from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837 ● Fast, fun, interesting Underground Railroad Symbols ● Picture of Underground Railroad Quilt Symbols ● Underground Railroad Symbols for schools, homework, kids and children
See also:  When Did The Underground Railroad Start And End In America? (Perfect answer)

Songs of the Underground Railroad – Wikipedia

When it comes to a program about escaped southern slaves making the treacherous trek to freedom in the nineteenth century, the Conner Prairie interactive history site near Indianapolis, Indiana, defines it as “history through immersion.” In February, which is Black History Month in the United States, it is an unforgettable stroll in the woods that has special significance. The program’s name is “Follow the North Star. ” ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd’ is a song title derived from an old American Negro spiritual hymn of the same name.

  • Escaped slaves moved northward in the years leading up to and during the American Civil War in the 1860s, hiding during the day and moving stealthily at night.
  • Nevertheless, they were in no way safe, even after crossing the Ohio and Potomac Rivers.
  • The narrative is being re-created at Connor Prairie in an ultra-realistic manner.
  • Participants of various races take on the role of blacks who have been collected up, split by sex into what the slavers refer to as bucks and breeders, and sold like livestock at auction to pay for their services.
  • The experience was summed up by a high-school student who claimed she learnt more about Civil War history there than she could have studied in any classroom.
  • The majority of people are apprehended.

Others would have been slain if they had been considered slaves in the first place. Many of the participants cry during the entire hour and a half. Yes, like in real life over two centuries ago, not every fugitive slave gets it to Canada, where he or she is assured of freedom.


” Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd ” is a song that has been attributed to the Underground Railroad. The title of the song is thought to be a reference to the star configuration (anasterism) known in America as the Big Dipper and in Europe as The Plough, both of which are visible in the night sky. The Big Dipper’s pointer stars are in perfect alignment with the North Star. The repeated lyric “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” in this song is sometimes understood as directions to fleeing slaves to journey north by following the North Star, which will take them to the northern states, Canada, and freedom: “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd.” It’s said that the song contains escape instructions and a map that takes the listener from Mobile, Alabama up the Tombigbee River, across a split to the Tennessee River, and then downriver to the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers in Paducah, Kentucky Another song with a rumored hidden significance is “Now Let Me Fly,” which is based on the biblical account of Ezekiel’s Wheels and is sung by the band.

  1. The majority of the song is devoted to the idea of a promised country.
  2. According to some, the spiritual song “Go Down Moses,” which represents the biblical account of Moses guiding his people to freedom in Exodus, may be a veiled reference to the conductors on the Underground Railroad.
  3. Music plays a significant role in the religion of African Americans today, just as it did in the telling of the story of liberation in the past.
  4. Frederick Douglass, an American slave, wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, in the nineteenth century (1845), Douglass provides examples of how the songs performed by slaves had different meanings, which he explains in detail.
  5. In My Bondage and Freedom: A Novel, Douglass makes similar observations but does not provide conclusive proof.
  6. We wanted to go to the north – and the north was Canaan, as it were.

Among others, it connoted the hope of a swift call to a realm of spirits; but among our party, it merely denoted the prospect of an expeditious journey toward a free state and freedom from all of the miseries and perils of slavery.” As with his previous observations, Douglass’ observations here do not provide conclusive evidence that slaves were successful in using coded song lyrics to aid their escape; he is writing here only about his small group of slaves who are encouraging one another as they finalize their plans to escape, not about the widespread use of coded song lyrics to aid escaping slaves.

According to his own words, at the beginning of this same paragraph, their master may have seen through their basic code: “I am the more inclined to believe that he suspected us since.

we did numerous foolish things, all of which were very well tailored to arouse suspicion.” Douglass quickly goes on to mention how their constant singing of the national anthem of freedom was one of the “many stupid things” that they had been doing.

Urban legend or truth

While many people think that the stories related about the songs of the Underground Railroad are real, there are also many others who feel the stories are not factual. Some believe that songs of the Underground Railroad are urban legends that date back to the late twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Skeptics contend that the narrative has been taken up by credulous authors and published as fact without any historical backing. Some authors who believe the song contained instructions for escaping slavery acknowledge the ephemeral nature of oral history, frequently prefacing their statements with phrases such as “supposed,” “according to folklorists,” and “gospelologists cite” to emphasize the transient nature of oral history.

” The arguments of some researchers are that while slave songs may have conveyed hope for release from the woes of this life, these songs did not provide literal assistance to runaway slaves.

There is evidence, however, that Harriet Tubman, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, made use of at least two songs.

“Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd”

According to some sources, the hypothesis arose from an elaboration of a folktale recorded in John A. Lomax’s 1934 book American Ballads and Folk Songs. He quotes a story from H.B Parks in his preface to “Foller de Drinkin’ Gou’d,” on page 227, in his section on reels: “One of my great-uncles, who was connected with the railroad movement, remembered that in the records of the Anti-Slavery Society there was a story of a peg-leg sailor, known asPeg-Leg Joe, who traveled through the South and induced young Negroes .

Peg-leg sailors would.

There was nothing else that could be discovered about the individual.

‘The grea’ huge un’ is known as the Ohio.

Songs associated with the Underground Railroad

  • Following the Drinking Gourd
  • Go Down Moses
  • Let Us Break Bread Together
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
  • Steal Away(To Jesus)
  • Wade in the Water
  • Song of the Free
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot On his album Africa/Brass, John Coltrane has a song named “Song of the Underground Railroad,” as well as “Down in the River to Pray,” ” Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” and ” Down in the River to Pray.”

See also

  • Songs like ” Jimmy Crack Corn,” ” Slave Songs of the United States,” and ” The Gospel Train” are among the best-known.


  1. ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd, A Cultural History’ is a book about following the drinking gourd. “Collection Story,” “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History,” “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History.” Song lyrics were retrieved on October 18, 2010
  2. This page was last modified on August 9, 2010. Ray Watson is the author of “Ezekiel’s Wheels” and “The Secret Place.” This page was last modified on August 9, 2010. Curry Brothers Publishing (2006) published the book The Legend of the Dancing Trees, Teachers Resource, written by Kenneth Curry and Gladys Menzies with Robert Curry. Every Time I Feel the Spirit: 101 Best-Loved Psalms, Gospel Hymns, and Other Spiritual Songs, by Gwendolin Sims Warren In Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, published by Owl Books in 1999, p. 16 it is stated: Three of the songs in this spirituals section, ” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot “, “Go Down, Moses “, and “Steal Away “, are sung in the following ways: Craig Werner’s book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America, is a must-read. According to the University of Michigan Press (2006), p. 7: “Songs like, “Wade in the water,” “Good news, de chariot’s coming,” “Swing low sweet chariot,” and “Steal away” were all supposed to have coded meanings, according to Claude A. Green, Jr.’s OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47: “Songs like, “Wade in the water,” ” The following is taken from William C. Kashatus’ Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, published by the Chester County Historical Society in 2002, on page 18: ” “According to folklorists, some slaves communicated their intention to escape by singing songs whose lyrics contained hidden messages, such as “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” “Wade in the Water, Children,” says the instructor. “Let’s get together and have some bread.””
  3. Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004), p. 665: Oliver Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004), p. 665: “Gospelologists point to the song ” Wade in the Water ” as an example of a song that was written for one reason but was covertly utilized for a different one. Slaves recited it as part of the baptismal rite, but it was also used by Underground RailroadconductorHarriet Tubman (dubbed “a woman name Moses”) to communicate to fugitive slaves fleeing to the North that they should “wade in the water” in order to throw bloodhounds off their scent as they attempted to reach the North.”
  4. Marc Aronson’s article “History That Never Happened” appeared in the April 1, 2007 issue of School Library Journal. James Kelley is the author of this work (April 2008). “Whether via song, tale, or history, African American spirituals are defying claims of a hidden message. “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” the drinking gourd says “. In 2008, The Journal of Popular Culture published 41(2): 262–80 with the doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2008.00502.x
  5. Joel Bresler’s “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History” is available online. retrieved on 2008-05-05
  6. See pages 26–27
  7. Marc Aronson’s article “History That Never Happened” appeared in the April 1, 2007 issue of School Library Journal. “There may be an older version of “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” that was sung by escaping slaves, and this may be the discovery of some industrious researcher in the future. Our job to young readers, in the meantime, is to pay attention to our own doubts and to be candid skeptics in our own lives. It is up to the next generation of scholars to demonstrate that we were mistaken
  8. Follow the Drinking Gourd” by H.B. Parks (published in Volume VII of the Publications of the Texas Folk-Lore Society) is a spiritual song that James Kelley describes as “a song, a story, or history: resisting claims of a coded message in the African American spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” ” In addition, there is the constellation known as the Big Dipper, which is utilized for navigational purposes. The North Star will always point you in the right direction. Tubman is said to have utilized the Big Dipper and the North Star as navigational aids. In the words of some authors, Tubman would explain that her father taught her about the Big Dipper so that she would always know where she was on her road to freedom
  9. AbcWilliam C. Kashatus,Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, Chester County Historical Society (2002), p. 18
  10. AbcGwendolin Sims Warren,Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit: 101 Best-Loved Psalms, Gospel Hymns, and Spirituals, p. 18
  11. AbcWilliam C. Kashatus,Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, Chester Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, Owl Books (1999), p. 16
  12. Ab Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, Owl Books (1999), p. 16
  13. Claude A. Green, Jr., OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47
  14. Craig Werner, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47
  15. Claude A. Green, Jr., OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing 665
  16. Oliver Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004)
  17. University of Michigan Press (2006), p. 7

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