What Happened To Slaves If They Were Caught On The Underground Railroad?

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. Not only did fugitive slaves have the fear of starvation and capture, but there were also threats presented by their surroundings.

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.

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.

How did the railroad affect slaves?

Railroads bought and sold slaves with contracts and elaborate, printed bills of sale. They recorded these events in balance sheets and company account books. Railroads also developed forms for contracts to hire enslaved labor from slaveholders.

What happened to the Underground Railroad after the fugitive?

End of the Line The Underground Railroad ceased operations about 1863, during the Civil War. In reality, its work moved aboveground as part of the Union effort against the Confederacy.

How 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.

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.

How did slaves get punished?

Slaves were punished by whipping, shackling, hanging, beating, burning, mutilation, branding, rape, and imprisonment. Punishment was often meted out in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but sometimes abuse was performed to re-assert the dominance of the master (or overseer) over the slave.

How did slaves get caught?

Most slaves in Africa were captured in wars or in surprise raids on villages. Adults were bound and gagged and infants were sometimes thrown into sacks.

What did the slaves eat?

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

Were slaves forced to build railroads?

Enslaved women and children were also forced to work on the railroads, running wheelbarrows, moving dirt, cooking, picking up stones, and shoveling. Some skilled slaves, especially blacksmiths, were hired as well on these construction crews.

What role did the Underground Railroad play?

The Underground Railroad provided hiding places, food, and often transportation for the fugitives who were trying to escape slavery. Along the way, people also provided directions for the safest way to get further north on the dangerous journey to freedom.

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.

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

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. In order to avoid being captured by the United States, Tubman would transport parties of escapees to Canada.

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.

John Brown

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.

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.

Sources

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.

Runaway Slaves

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.

The Little-Known History of the Underground Railroad in the City of New York magazine published by the Smithsonian Institution The Underground Railroad’s Allure is Dangerous! New Yorker magazine has published an article about this.

Myths About the Underground Railroad

The epic story of the Underground Railroad is told in Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad. Bordewich is Fergus Bordewich’s pen name. The Journey of Harriet Tubman to Freedom. Catherine Clinton is a former First Lady of the United States. Who Was the Real Führer of the Underground Railroad? Bill Gates, sometimes known as Henry Louis Gates, is an American businessman and philanthropist. The Little-Known History of the Underground Railroad in New York. This article appeared in the Smithsonian Magazine.

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The Railroad in Lore

Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.

6.

When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.

scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.

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. Torrey invented the phrase in 1842, according to abolitionist Charles T. Torrey. As David Blight points out, the phrase did not become widely used until the mid-1840s, when it was first heard.

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.

3.

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.

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

Ended

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.

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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.

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.

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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How the Underground Railroad Worked

A slave in 1850 didn’t have many options when it came to his or her life. In the alternative, he may choose to remain on his master’s plantation, accepting an existence of hard labor and frequently cruel physical punishment, as well as the possibility of a fractured family, as he saw his loved ones being sold into servitude. Although not all slaves lived in the same way, this was the kind of life he might expect if he remained in bondage. Alternatively, he may flee. Making a break for it was a very dicey possibility.

  1. Upon being apprehended, not only did the fugitive face virtually certain death, but the rest of the slaves on his property were frequently present when he was executed and were punished as a result of their presence.
  2. The runaway had to be on his guard at all times since outsiders may recognize him as a slave and give him in, and other slaves could rat him out in order to gain favor with their owners.
  3. Although he could receive some assistance from strangers along the route, everyone who was friendly to him was also suspicious.
  4. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 (which was made even harsher in 1850) provided that if his master could locate him, he could bring his “property” back to the South as a slave – assuming the master didn’t kill him first.
  5. As a result, the greatest chance a runaway had was to make it to Canada.
  6. But, if he does make it, he will be free.

Many slaves couldn’t bear the thought of simply contemplating, let alone attempting, the phrase. However, according to at least one estimate, more over 100,000 slaves would take their chances to start a new life during the 1800s. The Underground Railroad was their only hope of achieving freedom.

A Ride on the Underground Railroad

Because of the Underground Railroad’s secrecy, it is difficult to determine its exact roots and where it came from. There are several hypotheses as to how it began, but no definitive answers. Its organizers were unable to place “open for business” advertisements in their respective local newspapers. When it comes to chronology, the fact that the real train system wasn’t established until the 1820s provides some clues: if there was an escape mechanism in place before then, it was almost certainly not known as the Underground Railroad.

  • During the 1820s, anti-slavery organizations were beginning to take shape, and by the 1840s, there was a well-organized network of people who helped escaped slaves.
  • Each voyage was unique, but we’ll concentrate on the period between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s, which was the height of the Underground Railroad.
  • Field agents – frequently a traveling clergyman or doctor dressed as salespeople or census takers – were sometimes dispatched by free blacks to establish contact with a slave who want to emancipate himself.
  • When the slave first escaped from the plantation, the agent arranged for him to be transferred to a conductor who would take him on his first leg of the voyage.
  • Stations were normally spaced separated by a day’s ride on the railroad.
  • These dwellings were frequently equipped with secret corridors and compartments for concealing a large number of fugitives.
  • Running away in plain clothes (so that the escaped may appear as a traveling worker) was usual, but it wasn’t uncommon for a fugitive to dress as a member of the opposing sexual orientation.
  • Siebert’s seminal work, “The Underground Railroad,” as being loaned a white infant as part of her disguise.
  • Runaways were seldom on their own when traveling; instead, conductors directed them to the appropriate stops.
  • That meant moving at night, following the North Star, and concealing himself in plain sight during the day.
  • There are countless accounts of runaways becoming disoriented and traveling for weeks out of their path or accidentally traveling further south.

Furthermore, while clear nights were the greatest for traveling, wet days were also beneficial because less people were out on the streets. So, what happened when a runaway slave eventually made it to the United States’ northernmost territory? Continue reading to find out.

The Fugitive Slave Act

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 provided local authorities in both slave and free states the authority to issue warrants to “remove” any black person whom they suspected of being an escaped slave, according to the federal government. It also made it a federal criminal to assist a slave who had escaped. Despite the fact that the legislation was rarely implemented in non-slave states, it was reinforced in 1850 with increased penalties and harsher sentences. To make matters worse, the slave hunters could legally declare that every black person they saw was an escaped slave, which not only scared free blacks but also infuriated a large number of whites.

  1. Northerners were appalled.
  2. As a result, punishment in the North for white people and free blacks who participated in escapes was not as severe at first – often a fee for the loss of “property” and a brief jail sentence that was not always enforced.
  3. Whites who armed slaves, which was often required during the treacherous path, faced the possibility of execution if caught.
  4. The state of Pennsylvania contemplated repealing the Fugitive Slave Act in its original form (much like South Carolina would nullify part of the Constitution when seceding from the Union).
  5. Southern slave holders were not pleased with this and requested that the measure be put into effect immediately.
  6. In the 1857Dred Scottcase, the Supreme Court declared that blacks, whether free or slave, were not citizens and so did not have any rights to the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
  7. Although the Underground Railroad is frequently discussed in isolation from the Civil War, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that its operations had a significant role in precipitating the conflict.
  8. These anti-slavery organizations went on to become political parties such as the Free Soil Party and the Republican Party, which would be responsible for introducing Abraham Lincoln to the United States.

And, as they say, the rest, as they say, was history. So, what happened when a runaway slave eventually made it to the United States’ northernmost territory? Continue reading to discover out.­

Life After Escape

In other cases, depending on where the runaway was coming from, the trek to freedom may be completed in as little as 24 hours (on a train from Richmond, Va., to Philadelphia, for instance). It might take several years as well (escaping on foot from the Deep South). But, more importantly, where did the fugitives wind up? The majority of people believe that the Underground Railroad ran from slavery-torn southern states to free states in the north. That is correct, however the vast majority of fugitives fled to Canada, where they would be protected from prosecution under the Fugitive Slave Act.

  1. Slaves were also able to flee to Spanish-controlled Mexico and Florida from the Deep South, where the voyage north was all the more perilous because of the terrain.
  2. There, he would frequently have to wait until someone could obtain safe passage for him on a northern boat or train – a situation in which bribes were frequently used to achieve safe passage.
  3. However, they were more likely to carry on to Canada.
  4. However, the act also strengthened Northern abolitionists, who could now argue that the South was forcing slavery on the North as a result of the act.
  5. Once runaways arrived at their location, interracial organizations called asvigilance committees would aid them in creating a new life in their new environment.
  6. Successful runaways would occasionally attempt to repurchase enslaved family members, which was a risky strategy because it may potentially reveal their current whereabouts.
  7. Who were they, and how did they manage to collaborate in such a well guarded network?­
See also:  Where Was Harriet Tubmans Underground Railroad? (Correct answer)

How did people get involved with the Underground Railroad?

The majority of those who escaped slavery, particularly in the early years of the Underground Railroad’s operation, were males who traveled alone since it was a tough journey and traveling in groups attracted greater attention. However, as the number of migrants expanded, so did the ingenuity of conductors, who devised novel ways for large groups of people to move. Railroad volunteers transformed their homes by constructing secret corridors and chambers (one house inGettysburg, Pa., now converted into a restaurant, still has a movable bookcase that reveals a hiding place for fugitives).

The majority of those who assisted slaves in escaping were free and enslaved blacks, however some whites did assist as well.

Before the 1830s, most individuals along the path were only vaguely acquainted with one another, if at all, by word of mouth.

When the number of people who joined anti-slavery organisations grew, this began to alter. People grew more acquainted with one another as a result of the increased organization.

Underground Railroad Workers

It is estimated that there were around 3,200 “underground employees,” over half of whom were located in the state of Ohio. However, because to the importance placed on secrecy, there was no official or written organization in place. Individual performance and overall reputation were used to select who would be the next leader. The majority of the people who were participating in the Underground Railroad have been lost to history, and their experiences have gone unsung for many generations. And, as a result of the scarcity of written records, the anecdotes that have survived are primarily found as footnotes in history textbooks.

  • Harriet Tubman was the most well-known Underground Railroad conductor, and she was dubbed “the Moses of her people” because of her achievements.
  • When she went to the South for the first time to assist family members in escaping, she learned that her liberated husband had chosen a new wife and was hesitant to accompany them.
  • Bordewich, this tragedy hardened her, which may explain why Tubman would not accept runaways who were terrified or distressed.
  • While making the perilous voyage 13 more times and personally guiding at least 70 slaves to freedom in New York and Canada, Tubman’s lack of emotion helped keep her alive.

How many slaves escaped using the Underground Railroad?

It’s difficult to estimate how many slaves were able to escape through the Underground Railroad system in total. According to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Web site in Cincinnati, Ohio, “it is believed that more than 100,000 enslaved persons sought freedom through the Underground Railroad throughout the nineteenth century.” During the mid-1800s, according to author James M. McPherson’s book “Battle Cry of Freedom,” several hundred slaves escaped per year. However, according to the National Park Service’s Web site, between 1820 and 1860, “the most frequent calculation is that around one thousand per year actually escaped.” Similarly, according to an article in the Journal of Black Studies, only approximately 2,000 people managed to escape slavery between 1830 and 1860 through the use of the Underground Railroad.

For a variety of reasons, only a small number of people made it out of the Deep South, where conditions were frequently the worst.

Second, once the government outlawed the African slave trade in 1808, slaves became far more valuable than they had previously been (due to a lack of supply).

Take a look at the links on the next page if you want to learn more about the Underground Railroad.

Lots More Information

  • According to historians, it is difficult to estimate how many slaves fled using the Underground Railroad system. According to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Web site in Cincinnati, Ohio, “it is believed that more than 100,000 enslaved persons sought freedom through the Underground Railroad throughout the 1800s.” A number of hundred slaves escaped each year during the mid-1800s, according to author James M. McPherson’s book “Battle Cry of Freedom,” whereas the National Park Service Web site claims that between 1820 and 1860, “the most frequent calculation is that around one thousand per year actually escaped.” Between 1830 and 1860, according to another research published in the Journal of Black Studies, only approximately 2,000 people used the Underground Railroad to flee their oppressive circumstances. Historical researchers believe that, particularly early on, the majority of escapees originated in the border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Virginia. A variety of factors contributed to just a small number of people making it out of the Deep South, where conditions were frequently the worst. In the first place, the voyage north was significantly more difficult – those who did leave typically headed to Spanish-controlled Mexico or Florida instead. First and foremost, once the United States government prohibited the African slave trade in 1808, slaves became significantly more valuable (due to a lack of supply). The Deep South was a prime example of this. Because the larger cotton plantations required more work, masters were even more motivated to maintain control over their “property.”. For a third point, due to their distance from free states, slaves in the Deep South didn’t have as much access to information about escaping and what life was like in freedom as slaves in other parts of the country. Check out the links on the next page if you want to learn more about the Underground Railroad.

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