What Happened Before The Underground Railroad?

  • There was slavery in all original thirteen colonies, in Spanish California, Louisiana, and Florida; Central and South America; and on all of the Caribbean islands until the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and British abolition of slavery (1834). The Underground Railroad started at the place of enslavement.

What led up to the Underground Railroad?

The Underground Railroad (1820 – 1861) The success of the Underground Railroad rested on the cooperation of former runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who helped guide runaway slaves along the routes and provided their homes as safe havens.

When did Underground Railroad start?

system used by abolitionists between 1800-1865 to help enslaved African Americans escape to free states.

What is the timeline of the Underground Railroad?

Timeline Description: The Underground Railroad ( 1790s to 1860s ) was a linked network of individuals willing and able to help fugitive slaves escape to safety. They hid individuals in cellars, basements and barns, provided food and supplies, and helped to move escaped slaves from place to place.

Does the Underground Railroad still exist?

It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.

Who was John Brown in history?

John Brown, (born May 9, 1800, Torrington, Connecticut, U.S.—died December 2, 1859, Charles Town, Virginia [now in West Virginia]), militant American abolitionist whose raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now in West Virginia), in 1859 made him a martyr to the antislavery cause and was instrumental

What impact did the Underground Railroad have on slavery?

The work of the Underground Railroad resulted in freedom for many men, women, and children. It also helped undermine the institution of slavery, which was finally ended in the United States during the Civil War. Many slaveholders were so angry at the success of the Underground Railroad that they grew to hate the North.

Where did the Underground Railroad originate?

The Underground Railroad was created in the early 19th century by a group of abolitionists based mainly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Within a few decades, it had grown into a well-organized and dynamic network. The term “Underground Railroad” began to be used in the 1830s.

What happened after the Underground Railroad?

After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination. Thousands of slaves settled in newly formed communities in Southern Ontario. Suddenly their job became more difficult and riskier.

What happened to runaway slaves when they were caught?

If they were caught, any number of terrible things could happen to them. Many captured fugitive slaves were flogged, branded, jailed, sold back into slavery, or even killed. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 also outlawed the abetting of fugitive slaves.

How many slaves did Harriet Tubman save?

Fact: According to Tubman’s own words, and extensive documentation on her rescue missions, we know that she rescued about 70 people —family and friends—during approximately 13 trips to Maryland.

How many slaves were freed from the Underground Railroad?

The total number of runaways who used the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom is not known, but some estimates exceed 100,000 freed slaves during the antebellum period. Those involved in the Underground Railroad used code words to maintain anonymity.

Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?

Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.

How many slaves died trying to escape?

At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.

Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.

Quaker Abolitionists

The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.

What Was the Underground Railroad?

The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.

MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:

How the Underground Railroad Worked

The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.

The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.

While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.

Fugitive Slave Acts

The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.

The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.

Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.

Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.

Frederick Douglass

In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.

Agent,” according to the document.

John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.

William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.

Who Ran the Underground Railroad?

The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.

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Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.

Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.

John Brown

Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.

  1. The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
  2. Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
  3. After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
  4. John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
  5. He managed to elude capture twice.

End of the Line

Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed.

MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.


Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.

The Secret History of the Underground Railroad

Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad and the American Revolution. It was a pleasure to meet Fergus Bordewich. Road to Freedom: The Story of Harriet Tubman Catherine Clinton is a former First Lady of the United States of America who served as Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton. Was it really the Underground Railroad’s operators who were responsible? Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is an American businessman and philanthropist who founded the Gates Foundation in 1993.

New Yorker magazine has published an article about this.

Significant Events of the Underground Railroad – Women’s Rights National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)

1501—The Arrival of African Slaves in the New World Slaves from Africa are transported to Santo Domingo by Spanish colonizers. 1619 — Slaves arrive in Virginia. It is believed that the Africans transported to Jamestown were the first slaves to be taken into the British North American colonies. They were presumably released after a specified time of duty, similar to indentured labourers. 1700—Publication of the First Antislavery Pamphlet Samuel Seawell, a lawyer and printer from Massachusetts, is credited with publishing the first antislavery treatise in North America, The Selling of Joseph.

  1. The same rule empowers masters to “kill and destroy” runaways if they do not comply with their orders.
  2. Abolitionist association founded by Anthony Benezet of Philadelphia, who was the world’s first.
  3. Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776 “These United Colonies are, and by right ought to be, Free and Independent States,” the Continental Congress declares in its Declaration of Independence.
  4. Any attempt to obstruct the apprehension of fugitive slaves is prohibited by the laws of the United States.
  5. Although the importation of African slaves is prohibited, smuggling persists.
  6. slavery is prohibited in all areas north of latitude 36d /30′, and in all territories south of latitude 36d /30′, slavery is prohibited.
  7. The Liberator started publishing in 1831, with William Lloyd Garrison as the publisher.

The Philadelphia Feminist Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1833.

1834-1838—Slavery in the United Kingdom.

Sarah and Angelina Grimke go on a speaking tour in 1836.

It was in New York that the first Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women was convened in 1837.

The site of the conference, Pennsylvania Hall, was set ablaze by a crowd on May 17.

Organizers of the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London have refused to seat any female delegates from the United States.

On October 18, 1842, at an American Anti-Slavery Society conference held in Rochester,New York, Thomasand Mary Ann M’Clintock are inducted as founding members of the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society.

1843—Rhoda Bement, a Presbyterian member in Seneca Falls, New York, demands that clergy broadcast Abby Kelley’s lecture across the city.

Frederick Douglass publishes his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, in 1845.

Henry became a member of the law practice of Samuel Sewall.

Seneca Falls, New York, hosts the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848.

1850—The year of the 1850 Compromise In exchange for California’s admission into the Union as a free state, northern legislators agree to a stricter Fugitive Slave Act than the one that had been passed in 1793 before.

Accidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the title of a book that was first published in 1861.

With the exception of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, Congress grants these two new territories the right to decide whether or not to legalize slavery in their territory.

The Dred Scott decision was reached in 1857.

1859—John Brown gathers slaves to take over the Armory at Harper’s Ferry, which they successfully do.


In Syracuse, New York, Jermaine Loguen has written a book titled A Narrative of Real Life.

Elected Abraham Lincoln of Illinois becomes the first Republican to be elected to the office of President of the United States.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863.

The Proclamation only liberated slaves who were in open rebellion against the United States at the time of its issuance.

Slavery is abolished in 1865.

With revisions by Jamie Wolfe, the timeline was adapted from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

African-American Involvement in the Underground Railroad is discussed.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Underground Railroad are two of the most well-known figures in American history. The Underground Railroad and the Convention “In Defense of Woman and Slave” The Underground Railroad and the Convention

Underground Railroad

See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.

Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.

In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.

The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.

When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television?

Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.

The Underground Railroad

At the time of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to flee to freedom in the northern states.

Subjects History of the United States, Social StudiesImage

Home of Levi Coffin

Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist. This was a station on the Underground Railroad, a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in escaping to the North during the Civil War. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography. “> During the age of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the North, according to the Underground Railroad Museum.

Although it was not a real railroad, it fulfilled the same function as one: it carried passengers across large distances.

The people who worked for the Underground Railroad were driven by a passion for justice and a desire to see slavery abolished—a drive that was so strong that they risked their lives and jeopardized their own freedom in order to assist enslaved people in escaping from bondage and staying safe while traveling the Underground Railroad.

  1. As the network expanded, the railroad metaphor became more prevalent.
  2. In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as part of a larger organization.
  3. According to historical tales of the railroad, conductors frequently pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways out of plantation prisons and train stations.
  4. Often, the conductors and passengers traveled 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance in this day and age.
  5. Patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were usually on their tails, chasing them down.
  6. Historians who study the railroad, on the other hand, find it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
  7. Eric Foner is one of the historians that belongs to this group.
  8. Despite this, the Underground Railroad was at the center of the abolitionist struggle during the nineteenth century.
  9. Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist.
  10. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography.
  11. Person who is owned by another person or group of people is referred to as an enslaved person.

Slavery is a noun that refers to the act of owning another human being or being owned by another human being (also known as servitude). Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to flee to free states.

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Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and an abolitionist. As a halt on the Underground Railroad, his home served as an important link in the emancipation of slaves from the South to the United States’ northern climes. Cincinnati Museum Center took the photographs. “> While slavery was in effect, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the northern hemisphere during that time period.

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However, even though it was not a genuine railroad, it fulfilled a similar function: it moved people across large distances.

Many of the people who worked on the Underground Railroad were motivated by a desire for justice and a desire to see slavery put out of business—a motivation that was so strong that they were willing to risk their lives and their own freedom in order to aid enslaved individuals in their escape from bondage and to keep them safe along their journey.

  • The train metaphor became more and more prevalent as the network increased in size and complexity.
  • It was known to as “stations” where the runaways were housed, while “station masters” were those who were in charge of concealing the captives.
  • In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as members of a larger organization.
  • It has been said that conductors regularly pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways off of plantations during the early days of the railroad.
  • Often, the conductors and passengers went 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance for them.
  • On a regular basis, patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were hard on their tails.
  • Truth and fiction are difficult to distinguish in the minds of historians who study the railroad.

Instead, they argue that much of the action took place openly and in broad daylight.

He went back into the history of the railroad and discovered that, while a massive network existed that kept its actions hidden, the network grew so powerful that it was able to push the myth’s boundaries even farther.

It was the railroad that intensified racial tensions between northern and southern states and hence helped to precipitate the Civil War.

As a halt on the Underground Railroad, his home served as an important link in the emancipation of slaves from the South to the United States’ northern climes.

Civil WarNoun(1860-1865) An American struggle between the Union (north) and the Confederacy (south).

Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to escape to free territories.


Tyson Brown is a member of the National Geographic Society.


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  • According to National Geographic Society researcher Sarah Appleton, Margot Willis is a National Geographic Society researcher.


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Underground Railroad

When describing a network of meeting spots, hidden routes, passages, and safehouses used by slaves in the United States to escape slave-holding states and seek refuge in northern states and Canada, the Underground Railroad was referred to as the Underground Railroad (UR). The underground railroad, which was established in the early 1800s and sponsored by persons active in the Abolitionist Movement, assisted thousands of slaves in their attempts to escape bondage. Between 1810 and 1850, it is estimated that 100,000 slaves escaped from bondage in the southern United States.

Facts, information and articles about the Underground Railroad

Aproximate year of birth: 1780


1780 is a rough estimate.

Slaves Freed

Estimates range between 6,000 and 10,000.

Prominent Figures

Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. William Still is a well-known author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin. John Fairfield is a well-known author.

Related Reading:

The Story of How Canada Became the Final Station on the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and a Spion is well documented.

The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad

Even before the nineteenth century, it appears that a mechanism to assist runaways existed. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his escaped slaves by “a organization of Quakers, founded for such purposes.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge. Their influence may have played a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, which was home to a large number of Quakers.

In recognition of his contributions, Levi is often referred to as the “president of the Underground Railroad.” In Fountain City, Ohio, on Ohio’s western border, the eight-room Indiana home they bought and used as a “station” before they came to Cincinnati has been preserved and is now a National Historic Landmark.

“Eliza” was one of the slaves who hid within it, and her narrative served as the inspiration for the character of the same name in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name

Runaway assistance appears to have occurred well before the nineteenth century. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his fugitive slaves by “a organization of Quakers, created specifically for this reason.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge in the nineteenth century. It is possible that their influence had a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, given it was home to many Quakers at the time.

Due to his role in the Underground Railroad, Levi is sometimes referred to as its president.

“Eliza” was one of the slaves who hid within it, and her narrative served as the inspiration for the character of the same name in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (published in 1852).

Conductors On The Railroad

Even before the 1800s, it appears that a mechanism to assist runaways was in place. In 1786, George Washington expressed displeasure that one of his escaped slaves had been supported by “a organization of Quakers, founded for such reasons,” according to the Washington Post. Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, were among the first organisations to advocate for the abolition of slavery. Their influence may have played a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, which was home to many Quakers at the time.

As a result, Levi is referred to as the “president of the Underground Railroad” on occasion.

“Eliza,” one of the slaves who hid within it, was the inspiration for the character of the same name in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The Civil War On The Horizon

Events such as the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott decision compelled more anti-slavery activists to take an active part in the effort to liberate slaves in the United States. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Southern states began to secede in December 1860, putting an end to the Union’s hopes of achieving independence from the United States. Abolitionist newspapers and even some loud abolitionists warned against giving the remaining Southern states an excuse to separate. Lucia Bagbe (later known as Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson) is considered to be the final slave who was returned to bondage as a result of the Fugitive Slave Law.

Her owner hunted her down and arrested her in December 1860.

Even the Cleveland Leader, a Republican weekly that was traditionally anti-slavery and pro-the Fugitive Slave Legislation, warned its readers that allowing the law to run its course “may be oil thrown upon the seas of our nation’s difficulties,” according to the newspaper.

Following her capture, Lucy was carried back to Ohio County, Virginia, and punished, but she was released at some time when Union soldiers took control of the region. In her honor, a Grand Jubilee was celebrated on May 6, 1863, in the city of Cleveland.

The Reverse Underground Railroad

A “reverse Underground Railroad” arose in the northern states surrounding the Ohio River during the Civil War. The black men and women of those states, whether or not they had previously been slaves, were occasionally kidnapped and concealed in homes, barns, and other structures until they could be transported to the South and sold as slaves.

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The Underground Railroad

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

Civil War and Underground Railroad Timeline and Resources from American historian Fergus Bordewich

  • The Quaker Isaac T. Hopper and his African-American accomplices started assisting fleeing slaves in Philadelphia in the late 1790’s. The Underground Railroad was established as a result of their collaboration. fugitive slaves are transported overland with Quaker emigrants from North Carolina to Indiana in 1820, establishing the first long-distance route of the Underground Railroad
  • In 1826, Levi Coffin relocates to Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana, establishing the first permanent stop on the Underground Railroad. There, he creates one of the most efficient clandestine operations in the trans-Appalachian west, which he calls “The Underground Railroad.” Fugitives are occasionally transported in false-bottomed wagons or secreted in secret compartments
  • In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison established the Liberator in Boston, which is still in operation today. It is the first journal to demand for the abolition of slavery on an urgent basis. Garrison’s zealous activism will have an impact on the hearts and minds of numerous people around the country. Abolitionists gather in Philadelphia in 1833 to form the American Anti-Slavery Society, which would become the first national organization of abolitionists in American history. Many members of the group will go on to become participants in the Underground Railroad
  • Late 1830s:David Ruggles establishes the African-American underground in New York City, which will become known as the Underground Railroad. More than one thousand fleeing slaves will benefit from his assistance. A close associate of his is Isaac Hopper
  • 1840: The World’s Anti-Slavery Convention is held in London, England, and is attended by thousands of people. Lucretia Mott, an underground campaigner and longtime abolitionist, is one of the American attendees to the conference. The meeting is presided over by her husband, James
  • Fugitive slaves are fleeing in increasing numbers over the Ohio River in the 1840s. Ripley, Ohio was transformed into one of the most active hubs of underground activity thanks to the efforts of Rev. John Rankin’s family
  • 1841: Fugitive slave Josiah Henson founded the Dawn Institute in the vicinity of Dresden, Ontario. It is one of several model communities that have been built in Canada with the objective of educating escaped slaves in useful skills and assisting them in adjusting to life in a democratic society. It also serves as a destination for the Underground Railroad
  • In 1844, an abolitionist newspaper in Illinois, the Western Citizen, published the earliest depiction of the Underground Railroad as a real train. During the expansion of iron rails across North America, the jargon of railroading— “stations,” “station masters,” “cars,” and “passengers” —became the coded language of the underground
  • 1844:Jonathan Walker undertakes one of the most daring slave rescues ever attempted in the United States. He embarks on a tiny boat from Pensacola, Florida, with six other fugitives, destined for the British territory of the Bahamas. They are apprehended just one day’s sailing away from their intended destination. Walker is marked with the initials “SS,” which stand for “slave thief.” Later, he boasts with pride that they are the “slave rescuer” movement.
  • 1847: The Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery hires William Still to work as a clerk. He quickly rises to the position of network coordinator for one of the most major underground networks in the country, which connects activists from Norfolk, Virginia, to New York, and throughout southern Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States. The year is 1848, and Henry “Box” Brown successfully completes one of the most dramatic runaway slave escapes in history. Still is on standby to assist Brown in opening the box. The Underground Railroad’s most significant station master, Thomas Garrett, is placed on trial in Wilmington, Delaware for aiding the emancipation of six runaway slaves. Brown had himself sent from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia in a box. He is bold in his declaration that he will add another storey to his home in order to accommodate additional fugitives following his acquittal. In Seneca Falls, New York, the first national convention on women’s rights is being held. Women have been involved in the underground for a long time. 1849: Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland and becomes a symbol of injustice for African-Americans as a result. She will return to Maryland at least thirteen times in order to rescue slaves and guide them to safety in the North, eventually becoming the most well-known “conductor” on the underground railroad system in the United States. She will work closely with Thomas Garrett and William Still, two of her closest collaborators. The Fugitive Slave Act is passed by Congress in 1850. The legislation mandates all residents, regardless of their religious or political convictions, to work with governmental officials in order to apprehend and restore runaway slaves to their respective owners. Protests against the law erupt throughout the northern hemisphere. In 1851, abolitionists face up against federal officials and slave hunters in a wave of violent resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act. During the Battle of Christiana, Pennsylvania, African-American underground activists killed slave owner Edward Gorsuch
  • In 1852, Isaac T. Hopper, the “father of the Underground Railroad,” died in New York
  • And in 1853, the Underground Railroad has become increasingly open in many parts of the North, as Northerners refuse to cooperate with Federal officials. Underground activists in Detroit, Michigan, Albany, New York, and other cities publicly publicize their work with fugitives
  • 1850s: Fugitive slaves in Canada number more than 20,000, according to official figures. Communities mature and flourish as a result of their efforts. Henry Bibb, a runaway slave, underground activist, and journalist, founds theVoice of the Fugitive, which publishes information about fugitives’ landing in Canada. His adversary, Mary Ann Shadd, the daughter of an underground station master, becomes the first black woman to establish a newspaper in North America
  • 1859: John Brown takes the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, and becomes the first black president of the United States. Shields Green, a fugitive slave from South Carolina, is among his band of followers. He has a vision of extending the Underground Railroad into the Deep South by setting up a network of military stations in the Appalachian Mountains to protect the route. Brown and his associates are apprehended and executed
  • 1861: Troops from South Carolina open fire on Fort Sumter, which is located in Charleston harbor. The American Civil War begins. The Civil War takes precedence over the Underground Railroad between 1861 and 1865. Slave populations flee to the shelter of Union forces wherever they march
  • 1870: The Fifteenth Amendment grants African-Americans the right to vote. Levi Coffin, a veteran of the underground movement, declares that the underground has achieved its symbolic conclusion. “We’ve completed our task,” he proclaims.

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