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. For the slaves traveling north on the Underground Railroad, they were still in danger once they entered northern states.
What was the punishment for runaway slaves?
Many escaped slaves upon return were to face harsh punishments such as amputation of limbs, whippings, branding, hobbling, and many other horrible acts. Individuals who aided fugitive slaves were charged and punished under this law.
What was the punishment for the Underground Railroad?
A severe beating was the most common form of discipline, usually administered with a bull whip or a wooden paddle. The offender would be hung by the hands or staked to the ground and every slave on the plantation would be forced to watch the whipping to deter them from running away.
How many slaves were caught on the Underground Railroad?
Estimates vary widely, but at least 30,000 slaves, and potentially more than 100,000, escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
What happened to the Underground Railroad?
End of the Line The Underground Railroad ceased operations about 1863, during the Civil War. In reality, its work moved aboveground as part of the Union effort against the Confederacy.
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.
What happened to Caesar in Underground Railroad?
While the show doesn’t show us what happens after their encounter, Caesar comes to Cora in a dream later, confirming to viewers that he was killed. In the novel, Caesar faces a similar fate of being killed following his capture, though instead of Ridgeway and Homer, he is killed by an angry mob.
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 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.
Why was the Underground Railroad illegal?
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. The Act made it illegal for a person to help a run away, and citizens were obliged under the law to help slave catchers arrest fugitive slaves.
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.
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman help free via the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”
Myths About the Underground Railroad
When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery enabled those events to take place, never to be lost again. Among our ancestors’ long and dreadful history of human bondage is the Underground Railroad, which has garnered more recent attention from teachers, students, museum curators, and the tourism industry than any other institution from the black past.
Nevertheless, in the effort to convey the narrative of this magnificent institution, fiction and lore have occasionally taken precedence over historical truth.
The sacrifices and valor of our forefathers and foremothers, as well as their allies, are made all the more noble, heroic, and striking as a result.
I think this is a common misconception among students.
As described by Wilbur H.
Running slaves, frequently in groups of up to several families, were said to have been directed at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ secret name for the North Star.
The Railroad in Lore
When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery resulted in those events, which will never be lost again. In recent years, few institutions from our ancestors’ long and dreadful history in human bondage have garnered more attention than the Underground Railroad. It is one of our forefathers’ most venerable and philanthropic innovations, and it is also one of the most well-known and well-received by teachers, students, museum curators, and the tourism industry.
In order to communicate the truth about the past as it truly happened, scholars have put in a great lot of work to distinguish between fact and fiction, which has always been an important component of telling it straight.
When I hear our students talk about the Underground Railroad, I get the impression that they are under the impression that it was something akin to a black, Southern Grand Central Station, with regularly scheduled routes that hundreds of thousands of slave “passengers” used to escape from Southern plantations, aided by that irrepressible, stealthy double agent, Harriet Tubman.
Many people also believe that thousands of benign, incognito white “conductors” routinely hid slaves in secret rooms hidden in attics or basements, or behind the staircases of numerous “safe houses,” the locations of which were coded in “freedom quilts” sewn by slaves and hung in their windows as guideposts for fugitives on the run.
Siebert in his massive pioneering (and often wildly romantic) study, The Underground Railroad(1898), the “railroad” itself was composed of “a chain of stations leading from the Southern states to Canada,” or “a series of hundreds of interlocking ‘lines,’ ” that ran from Alabama or Mississippi, throughout the South, all the way across the Ohio River and Mason-Dixon Line, as the historian David Blight summarizes in Passages: The Underground Railroad, 1838-19 Escaped slaves, many of whom were entire families, were said to be guided at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ code name for the Northern Star.
A Meme Is Born
As Blight correctly points out, the railroad has proven to be one of the most “enduring and popular strands in the fabric of America’s national historical memory.” Since the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans, particularly in New England and the Midwest, have either made up legends about the deeds of their ancestors or simply repeated stories that they have heard about their forebears.
It’s worth taking a look at the history of the phrase “Underground Railroad” before diving into those tales, though.
Tice Davids was a Kentucky slave who managed to escape to Ohio in 1831, and it is possible that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was invented as a result of his successful escape.
According to Blight, he is believed to have said that Davids had vanished as though “the nigger must have gone off on an underground railroad.” This is a fantastic narrative — one that would be worthy of Richard Pryor — but it is improbable, given that train lines were non-existent at the time.
- The fleeing slave from Washington, D.C., who was tortured and forced to testify that he had been taken north, where “the railroad extended underground all the way to Boston,” according to one report from 1839, was captured.
- constructed from Mason and Dixon’s to the Canada line, upon which fugitives from slavery might come pouring into this province” is the first time the term appears.
- 14, 1842, in the Liberator, a date that may be supported by others who claim that abolitionist Charles T.
Myth Battles Counter-Myth
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.
Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.
Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.
In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”
Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism
That’s a little amount of history; what about those urban legends? The answers are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement itself were possibly the first examples in American history of a truly multiracial alliance, and the role played by the Quakers in its success cannot be overstated. Despite this, it was primarily controlled by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, with the most notable exception being the famous Philadelphian William Still, who served as its president.
- The Underground Railroad was made possible by the efforts of white and black activists such as Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett, Calvin Fairbank, Charles Torrey, Harriet Tubman and Still, all of whom were true heroes.
- Because of the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the railroad’s growth did not take place until after that year.
- After all, it was against the law to help slaves in their attempts to emancipate themselves.
- Being an abolitionist or a conductor on the Underground Railroad, according to the historian Donald Yacovone, “was about as popular and hazardous as being a member of the Communist Party in 1955,” he said in an email to me.
- The Underground Railroad was predominantly a phenomena of the Northern United States.
- For the most part, fugitive slaves were left on their own until they were able to cross the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon Line and thereby reach a Free State.
- For fugitives in the North, well-established routes and conductors existed, as did some informal networks that could transport fugitives from places such as the abolitionists’ office or houses in Philadelphia to other locations north and west.
(where slavery remained legal until 1862), as well as in a few locations throughout the Upper South, some organized support was available.
I’m afraid there aren’t many.
Furthermore, few dwellings in the North were equipped with secret corridors or hidden rooms where slaves might be hidden.
What about freedom quilts?
The only time a slave family had the resources to sew a quilt was to shelter themselves from the cold, not to relay information about alleged passages on the Underground Railroad that they had never visited.
As we will discover in a future column, the danger of treachery about individual escapes and collective rebellions was much too large for escape plans to be publicly shared.5.
No one has a definitive answer.
According to Elizabeth Pierce, an administrator at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the figure might be as high as 100,000, but that appears to be an overstatement.
We may put these numbers into context by noting that there were 3.9 million slaves and only 488,070 free Negroes in 1860 (with more than half of them still living in the South), whereas there were 434,495 free Negroes in 1850 (with more than half still living in the South).
The fact that only 101 fleeing slaves ever produced book-length “slave narratives” describing their servitude until the conclusion of the Civil War is also significant to keep in mind while thinking about this topic.
However, just a few of them made it to safety.
How did the fugitive get away?
John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, as summarized by Blight, “80 percent of these fugitives were young guys in their teens and twenties who absconded alone on the majority of occasions.
Because of their household and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less likely to flee than older slave women.
Lyford in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had been a long and difficult journey.” 7.
What is “Steal Away”?
They used them to communicate secretly with one another in double-voiced discussions that neither the master nor the overseer could comprehend.
However, for reasons of safety, privacy, security, and protection, the vast majority of slaves who escaped did so alone and covertly, rather than risking their own safety by notifying a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, for fear of betraying their masters’ trust.
Just consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been thus planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you think?
According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the vast majority of whom were black.
Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrible and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the total numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, were “not huge.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were not nearly as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.
Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be published on the website African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. On The Root, you may find all 100 facts.
But enough about history; what about those urban legends? Answers to the questions are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement as a whole were possibly the first examples in American history of a genuinely multiracial alliance, with the Quakers playing a critical part in its success. Although it was mostly controlled by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, it was also dominated by Philadelphians, most notably the famous William Still.
- Some of the Underground Railroad’s most heroic figures were both white and black campaigners.
- As reported by James Horton, William Still himself was responsible for the rescue of 649 fugitives who sought refuge in Philadelphia, including 16 who came on a single day (June 1, 1855), according to Blight.
- People were involved in its activities, but only a small number of them, relative to the number of people in the world.
- It is possible to be charged with “constructive treason” if you violate the 1850 Act of Congress.
- Because of this, it concentrated its operations mostly in the Free States.
- Because of these circumstances, the Underground Railroad could be put into operation.
Additionally, in Washington, D.C.
In addition, some slaves were aided in their attempts to flee from Southern seaports, albeit only a small number of people.
You know, those secret passageways or rooms in attics, garrets, cellars, or basements.
Tunnels were rarely used by escaped slaves, who preferred to sneak out of towns at night than than via them, which would have been a massive task and extremely expensive project.
Simply put, this is one of the strangest urban legends to have been perpetuated in the whole history of African-American culture and civilization.
The truth is that messages of many kinds were sent out at black church gatherings and prayer sessions from time to time, but none of them had information concerning Harriet Tubman’s arrival date and time.
How many slaves actually managed to escape to a new life in the North, in Canada, Florida, or Mexico?
No one is certain of anything.
It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people worked at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, according to Elizabeth Pierce, a center spokeswoman, but that sounds a bit optimistic to me given the current state of the economy.
In light of the fact that these data would include those fugitives who had successfully crossed into Canada via the Underground Railroad as well as natural growth, we can see how modest the numbers of runaway slaves who successfully crossed into Canada in this decade, for example, were.
According to John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger’s groundbreaking book, Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, more than 50,000 slaves fled not to the North, but “inside the South,” as Blight explains, “annually throughout the late antebellum period,” according to Franklin and Schweninger.
Families as a group?
Because of their family and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less inclined to flee away.
Lyford, in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe, with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had become “Steal Away” is the seventh question.
Inventing coded languages to communicate clandestinely with one another, in double-voiced discourses that the master and overseer couldn’t comprehend, was a brilliant trait of African Americans during the slave trade era.
They did not put themselves or their families at danger by alerting a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, out of fear of being betrayed.
Let’s consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been this planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you believe?
According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the majority of whom were African Americans.
Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrifying and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the aggregate numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, was “not enormous.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were nothing like as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.
Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be made available on the African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross website. On The Root, you may read all 100 facts.
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.
The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
She was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, and her name is Harriet Tubman. In 1849, she and two of her brothers managed to escape from a farm in Maryland, where they were born into slavery under the name Araminta Ross. Harriet Tubman was her married name at the time. While they did return a few of weeks later, Tubman set out on her own shortly after, 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 people.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other runaway slaves to the Maryland state capital of Fredericksburg.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Ordinary individuals, farmers and business owners, as well as pastors, were the majority of those who operated the Underground Railroad. Several millionaires, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who campaigned for president twice, were involved. For the first time in his life, Smith purchased and freed a whole family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, was one of the earliest recorded individuals to assist fleeing enslaved persons. Beginning in 1813, when he was 15 years old, he began his career.
They eventually began to make their way closer to him and eventually reached him. In subsequent years, Coffin relocated to Indiana and eventually Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitives from slavery no matter where he went.
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.
During the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad came to an end about 1863. When it came to the Union fight against the Confederacy, its activity was carried out aboveground. This time around, Harriet Tubman played a critical role in the Union Army’s efforts to rescue the recently liberated enslaved people by conducting intelligence operations and serving in the role of leadership. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ THESE STATEMENTS. Harriet Tubman Led a Brutal Civil War Raid Following the Underground Railroad.
The Constitution and the Underground Railroad: How a System of Government Dedicated to Liberty Protected Slavery (U.S. National Park Service)
A new clause for the draft constitution was proposed by Pierce Butler and Charles Pinckney, two South Carolina delegates to the Constitutional Convention that met on August 28, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It had been more than three months since the Convention had started considering the new structure of governance. Throughout the summer, there had been extensive and bitter disputes over the impact of slavery on the new form of government being established. Many safeguards to maintain the system of human bondage had been requested and achieved by Southerners throughout the years.
- Unknown artist created this piece.
- The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-6088).
- The three-fifths provision of the new Constitution included slaves in the calculation of congressional representation, resulting in an increase in the power of slave states in both the House of Representatives and the electoral college as a result.
- Exports were exempt from taxation by Congress and the states, which safeguarded the tobacco and rice farmed by slaves from being taxed.
- The Constitution also stated that the national government would suppress “domestic violence” and “insurrections.” When “fugitive slaves and servants” escaped into neighboring states, Butler and Pinckney asked that they be “given up like criminals,” as they had done in the past.
- The next day, without any further debate or even a formal vote, the Convention passed the Fugitive Slave Clause, which became law in 1850.
- Although the word slave was avoided, it appeared that if a slave managed to flee to a free state, that state would be unable to free that person, and any runaway who was apprehended would be turned over to the person who had claimed ownership of the slave in the first place.
- As a result, the phrasing of the sentence, as well as its structural placement, suggested that this was something that the states would have to figure out amongst themselves.
- Northerners were completely unaware of its capacity to cause harm to their neighbors or to disturb their culture.
During a speech to the South Carolina state assembly, General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (whose younger cousin had submitted the clause) boasted, “We have acquired the right to recapture our slaves in wherever part of America they may seek sanctuary, which is a right we did not have before.” In a similar vein, Edmund Randolph used this phrase to demonstrate that slavery was protected by the Constitution in the Virginia convention.
The author stated that “everyone is aware that slaves are obligated to serve and labor.” Using the Constitution, he contended that “power is granted to slave owners to vindicate their property” since it permitted a Virginian citizen to travel to another state and “take his fugitive slave” and bring “him home.” At the Convention, no one seems to have considered the possibility that the new government might operate as an agent for slaveowners.
- However, only a few years after the Constitution was ratified, the subject of fugitive slaves and the extradition of felons was brought before Congress for consideration.
- However, Virginia’s governor rejected, claiming that the free black had in reality been captured and that thus no crime had been committed.
- As a result, a legislation was passed in 1793 that governed both the return of fugitive felons and the return of runaway slaves.
- Fugitive slave harborers may be fined up to $500 (a large sum of money at the time), and they could also be sued for the value of any slaves that were not recaptured.
- People who did not obey the regulations under these state laws were subject to severe penalties under the law.
- Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that all of these statutes were unconstitutional because, according to the Court, Congress had the only authority to govern the return of fugitive slaves to their homelands.
- Many northern governments responded by passing legislation prohibiting the use of state property (including jails) for the repatriation of runaway slaves, as well as prohibiting state personnel from taking part in fugitive slave cases.
This landmark anti-slavery ruling mobilized the whole federal government in support of attempts to apprehend runaway slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Fugitive slaves would be extremely difficult to repatriate if they did not have the help of the northern states.
Federal commissioners were appointed in every county around the country as part of the new national law enforcement system.
The commissioners were given the authority to utilize state militias, federal marshals, as well as the Army and Navy, to bring fugitive slaves back to their owners.
The punishment for anybody who assists a slave in fleeing might be six months in jail and a fine of up to a whopping thousand dollars.
It also interfered with the right of the northern states to defend their free black inhabitants from being claimed as fugitives by the federal government.
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 had a variety of consequences.
Between 1850 and 1861, around 1,000 African-Americans would be deported to the South as a result of this statute.
In state legislatures, courtrooms, and on the streets, there was fierce opposition to the bill throughout the northern United States.
“The Oberlin rescuers at Cuyahoga County prison, c.1859,” says the artist.
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue became renowned as a result of this incident.
During this time of year when we commemorate Constitution Day, it is important to remember that this document protected slavery and laid the groundwork for the federal government to hunt down and arrest people whose only crime was the color of their skin and their desire to enjoy “the Blessings of Liberty” that the Constitution claimed it was written to achieve.
In some areas, such as upstate New York and northern Ohio, the 1850 law was virtually unenforceable because the average, usually law-abiding citizens participated in the Underground Railroad, choosing to support human liberty and fundamental justice even when the laws of the United States and the Constitution itself criminalized such activities.
Paul Finkelman, Ph.D. He has written more than 50 books and hundreds of articles, and he is a prolific writer. His most recent book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, was released by Harvard University Press in 2018 and is about slavery in the United States Supreme Court.
Gratz College, in collaboration with the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, hosted an online seminar wherein Dr. Paul Finkelman, the author of this paper, went into further depth on the ties between the Underground Railroad and the United States Constitution. To see a recording of the webinar, please visit the link provided below the video.
Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
According to Ohio History Central This group of freedom seekers made their way to freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad and settled in the city of Windsor, Ontario. According to the order of their names, from left to right, the back row includes Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Mansfield Smith, and Mrs. Seymour; the front row includes Stevenson and Johnson. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was enacted as part of the Compromise of 1850, which abolished slavery. As a result of this rule, the United States government was compelled to aggressively help slave proprietors in the recapturing of liberation seekers.
- With the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, the federal government was obligated to help slave owners.
- This measure was criticized by abolitionists in the North.
- Abolitionists hoped that the Fugitive Slave Law would grant African Americans the opportunity to testify in court as well as the right to a jury trial.
- The Fugitive Slave Law was plainly in the favor of the slave owners and their descendants.
- Marshals from the United States had to go out of their way to find and restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners.
- African Americans were not permitted to present evidence to a federal commissioner who was appointed to hear a case and determine whether an African American was a slave or a free individual.
- If the commissioner decided in favor of the white guy, the commissioner earned a monetary reward of 10 dollars for his efforts.
This section of the Fugitive Slave Law was criticized by many abolitionists for serving as a way of bribing the commissioners.
332 African Americans were forced into slavery in the South out of the total population of 343 persons.
Hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated to Canada during the Civil Rights Movement.
The legitimacy of the Fugitive Slave Law was challenged in court by abolitionists, but the United States Supreme Court maintained the law’s constitutionality in 1859.
They urged people to fight any attempts to enforce it and referred to this law as the “Kidnap Law” in order to raise awareness.
On a few occasions, residents of Ohio physically obstructed the implementation of the Fugitive Slave Law.
A federal marshal apprehended a freedom seeker and sought to deport him back to the United States of America.
Residents of Oberlin and Wellington assisted the freedom seekers in their escape once more. For breaching the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, thirty-seven persons were charged. In the end, just two of the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison time.
According to the Ohio History Central website. This group of freedom seekers made their way to freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad and settled in the city of Windsor, Ontario, in the country. Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Mansfield Smith, and Mrs. Seymour are in the back row, while Stevenson and Johnson are in the front row, in that order. Part of the Compromise of 1850 was passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. As a result of this rule, the United States government was compelled to aggressively help slave proprietors in the recapturing of freedom seekers.
- Previously, there had been no such mandate in place.
- The African American community was targeted by certain members of Congress during the debate over the legislation in the United States Congress.
- A few legislators objected, stating that African Americans were not citizens of the United States.
- The consequences for anybody found concealing their identity or supporting freedom seekers became harsher.
- if a marshal refuses to comply, the federal government will punish him or her $1,000 dollars.
- In this case, the slave owner was liable for paying the commissioner.
The commissioner received just five dollars if he decided in favor of the slaveholder.
A total of 343 African Americans came before federal commissioners between 1850 and 1860, according to records.
Only eleven persons were allowed to stay free in the North by the commissioners.
The nation was evacuated by a group of individuals who had lived in freedom all their lives.
In addition to the Fugitive Slave Law, Ohio abolitionists were vocal in their opposition to it.
Some African Americans in Ohio, as in other regions of the United States, escaped to Canada.
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case, which occurred in 1858, is an example of this type of situation.
Again, citizens of Oberlin and Wellington came to the aid of the freedom fighters. An indictment was issued against 37 persons for breaking the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. All but two of the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to jail time.
Fugitive or Free?
Prior to 1850, runaway slaves who managed to make their way from the southern United States to the northern states were regarded to have gained their freedom. However, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the northern states were no longer considered a safe haven for fugitive slaves. Slavecatchers may be able to apprehend and return escaped slaves to their respective masters. In addition, anyone who had escaped slavery by emigrating to a free state years previously may be deported back to servitude under certain circumstances.
The same threat existed for all free blacks, regardless of race.
Once they had crossed into Upper Canada, all men, women, and children were free to go wherever they wanted.
LC-USZC4-4550 is the Library of Congress’s catalog number for this item.
The Underground Railroad
In the United States, the Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses operated by abolitionists in both free and slave states, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom. Slavery was abolished because of the efforts of those who assisted slaves on their way to freedom – free blacks, Quakers, and other campaigners – who risked their lives fighting against it. Despite the fact that there was never a true railroad, safehouses were referred to as stations, and those who lived in them were referred to as stationmasters.
New Land, New Life
In Canada West (previously Upper Canada), black males were granted the ability to own property and vote if they satisfied certain qualifications regarding ownership of property. It was possible for all black people to make a living, get married, and establish a family. Building a new life in Canada was made possible thanks to the help of the Canadian government and abolitionist organisations in both Canada and the United States of America. Refugees were permitted to purchase land at a discounted cost, and educational subsidies were made available to them.
Did You Know?
The province of Upper Canada was renamed Canada West in 1841, and now it is a component of the modern-day Canadian province of Ontario.
When escaped slaves first arrived in Canada West, the vast majority of them chose to live near the United States border. Because of this, they were able to remain closer to family relatives who were distributed around the United States. During this time period, white folks acted in a largely neutral manner toward them. When fugitive slaves began to arrive in greater numbers in the United States around 1840, white residents began to feel threatened. Some people were concerned that these escaped slaves would be unable to work and would be forced to rely on government help instead.
The petition was eventually signed by over 100,000 people. Following the abolition of slavery, they were concerned about an uncontrollable flood of freshly liberated blacks.
Black immigrants settled in a variety of towns and communities, including Hamilton, St. Catharine’s, Windsor, and Toronto, as well as other locations. The Chatham-Kent region of Canada West has the highest population of black immigrants and refugees, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. In the 1820s, a handful of all-black towns were formed in the United States. William Wilberforce, a former slave who created Wilberforce, was the world’s first community of this type. The Dawn Settlement was established in 1834 by escaped slave Josiah Henson.
- Later, the towns of Wilberforce and the Dawn Settlement were either abandoned or incorporated into other cities.
- The Buxton Mission is still in operation today in the town of North Buxton, Ontario.
- Some claimed it was the most effective means of protecting oneself, while others were concerned that it was contributing to the continuation of inequality.
- Elgin Settlement, located in what is now Chatham, Ontario, was established in 1849.
- The Elgin Settlement as seen on a map from 1860.
Josiah Henson was born a slave in Maryland in 1789, and he and his family finally escaped to Canada in 1830, where they settled. Dawn Township, which later became known as the Dawn Colony, was built by him as an all-Black settlement. Henson made a name for himself as a Methodist preacher in the area, and he believed strongly in the significance of providing work and educational opportunities for black immigrants. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was first published in 1852, was based on the life of Uncle Tom.
A neighborhood leader and “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, Josiah Henson was well-respected in his day.
Making Their Mark
Wherever they landed across Canada, black immigrants who arrived to the country via the Underground Railroad made significant contributions to the well-being of their respective communities. Many of them went on to become farmers, raising crops such as wheat, peas, tobacco, and hemp. Others were experienced tradespeople who worked as blacksmiths, shoemakers, and wagon makers, among other things. The majority of black women, like their white counterparts, did not have jobs outside the house.
They cared for their children or earned a living as seamstresses and washerwomen in the factories. What’s more, they demonstrated that, when given the opportunity, they were capable of creating and engaging in community activities.
Mrs. Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893), the daughter of an Underground Railroad “station master,” was an abolitionist pioneer and advocate for black refugees who came to Canada during the American Civil War. C-029977 is the number assigned by Library and Archives Canada. A number of publications were established in order to raise awareness of the opportunities available to black people in Canada, to disseminate news, and to advocate for the abolition of slavery. One of the early black newspapers in Canada, The Voice of the Fugitive was established in Sandwich, Canada West, in 1851 and was one of the country’s first black publications.
Following that, Mary Ann Shadd Cary started another newspaper, the Provincial Freeman, which she published until her death.
Shadd Cary was the first black woman to be elected to political office in the United States.
The Voice of the Fugitive was one of the first periodicals in Canada West to be published in order to raise awareness of the possibilities and services available to African-Americans.
Did You Know?
After meeting certain requirements, black men were granted the right to vote upon their arrival in Canada. Women in Canada were not granted the right to vote in federal elections until 1919, and Aboriginal people were not granted the right to vote until 1960.
While on the surface, life looked to be far better in Canada, this newfound independence had its limitations. Despite the fact that slaves were granted freedom in Canada, they were nevertheless subjected to racism, persecution, and discrimination. Blacks were pushed away from Canada as a result of these beliefs, while other circumstances drew them back towards the United States over time. The passage of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which ended slavery, resulted in a significant improvement in the conditions of black people in the United States.
Those who remained in Canada continued to make contributions to their communities, and over time, they were successful in breaking down many racial barriers.
Upper Canada’s John Graves Simcoe signs the Act Against Slavery into law in the year 1793. The British Emancipation Act of 1834 formally abolishes the system of slavery across the British Empire, with the exception of the colonies. The Dawn Settlement is established near Dresden, Canada West, in the year 1842. The Elgin Settlement, Canada West, is established in 1849. The Fugitive Slave Act is passed in the United States of America in 1850. Sandwich, Canada West, is the site of the inaugural publication of The Voice of the Fugitive newspaper in 1851.
The American Civil War began in 1861.
The American Civil War comes to a conclusion in 1865. Josiah Henson passes away in Dresden, Ontario, in the year 1883. – In Washington, D.C., Mary Ann Shadd Cary succumbs to her injuries. What If I Told You?
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
The beginnings of the American Civil War occurred around the year 1862.
Estimates range between 6,000 and 10,000.
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.
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.
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
Owen Brown, the father of radical abolitionist John Brown, was a member of the Underground Railroad in the state of New York during the Civil War. An unconfirmed narrative suggests that “Mammy Sally” designated the house where Abraham Lincoln’s future wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, grew up and served as a safe house where fugitives could receive food, but the account is doubtful. Routes of the Underground Railroad It was not until the early 1830s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was first used.
Fugitives going by water or on genuine trains were occasionally provided with clothing so that they wouldn’t give themselves away by wearing their worn-out job attire.
Many of them continued on to Canada, where they could not be lawfully reclaimed by their rightful owners.
The slave or slaves were forced to flee from their masters, which was frequently done at night. It was imperative that the runaways maintain their eyes on the North Star at all times; only by keeping that star in front of them could they be certain that they were on their trip north.
Conductors On The Railroad
A “conductor,” who pretended to be a slave, would sometimes accompany fugitives to a plantation in order to lead them on their journey. Harriet Tubman, a former slave who traveled to slave states 19 times and liberated more than 300 people, is one of the most well-known “conductors.” She used her shotgun to threaten death to any captives who lost heart and sought to return to slavery. The Underground Railroad’s operators faced their own set of risks as well. If someone living in the North was convicted of assisting fugitives in their escape, he or she could face fines of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, which was a significant sum at the time; however, in areas where abolitionism was strong, the “secret” railroad was openly operated, and no one was arrested.
His position as the most significant commander of the Underground Railroad in and around Albany grew as time went on.
However, in previous times of American history, the phrase “vigilance committee” generally refers to citizen organizations that took the law into their own hands, prosecuting and hanging those suspected of crimes when there was no local government or when they considered the local authority was corrupt or weak.
White males who were found assisting slaves in their escape were subjected to heavier punishments than white women, but both were likely to face at the very least incarceration.
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.