Underground Railroad conductors were free individuals who helped fugitive slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad. Conductors helped runaway slaves by providing them with safe passage to and from stations. If a conductor was caught helping free slaves they would be fined, imprisoned, branded, or even hanged.
What was the Underground Railroad and how did it work?
- During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally. It was not an actual railroad, but it served the same purpose—it transported people long distances.
What 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 happened to the slaves when they were caught?
Typically, slaves escaped by themselves or in small groups and hid from authorities for up to several weeks. Many often returned to their owners after suffering hunger and other hardships on their own. If escaped slaves were captured, owners had to pay fees to free them from jail.
What was the punishment for hiding slaves?
The law also imposed a $500 penalty on any person who helped harbor or conceal escapees. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 was immediately met with a firestorm of criticism.
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.
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 many slaves did Harriet Tubman save?
Fact: According to Tubman’s own words, and extensive documentation on her rescue missions, we know that she rescued about 70 people —family and friends—during approximately 13 trips to Maryland.
How long did slaves usually live?
As a result of this high infant and childhood death rate, the average life expectancy of a slave at birth was just 21 or 22 years, compared to 40 to 43 years for antebellum whites. Compared to whites, relatively few slaves lived into old age.
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.
What was a slaves life like?
Life on the fields meant working sunup to sundown six days a week and having food sometimes not suitable for an animal to eat. Plantation slaves lived in small shacks with a dirt floor and little or no furniture. Life on large plantations with a cruel overseer was oftentimes the worst.
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.
How many slaves died trying to escape?
At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.
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 escaped to freedom using the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad and freed slaves [ estimated 100,000 escaped ] Not literally a railroad, but secret tunnels of routes and safe houses for southern slaves to escape to Canda for their freedom before the Civil War ended in 1865.
Pathways to Freedom
The audio element cannot be played because your browser does not support it. As you read this chapter, pay attention to the audio! What would happen if an enslaved person was apprehended while attempting to flee their captivity? Someone who has been captured while trying to flee their slavery might face extremely serious consequences. Runaways were frequently sold “south” by their captors. That indicates that they were sold to someone who resided much further south than Maryland, where it would be more difficult to flee because the distance between Maryland and the rest of the country was so enormous.
Occasionally, they were sold to a different owner who resided in the same neighborhood.
Enslaved persons who failed to escape the first time often tried again and were successful the second time.
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Audio elements cannot be played because your browser lacks support for them. During your reading, pay attention to the passage. Is it possible to get captured by the authorities while attempting to flee from captivity? Someone who has been captured while trying to flee from slavery might face extremely harsh punishment. “South” would be the most common destination for runaways. Because of the increased distance between them and the North, it is likely that they were sold to someone who resided much further south than Maryland, where it would be more difficult to flee.
A different owner who lived nearby would occasionally purchase them.
Enslaved persons who failed to escape the first time frequently attempted and succeeded the second time.
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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.
By the 1840s, the phrase “Underground Railroad” had become part of the common lexicon in the United States. 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.
Tubman transported groups of fugitives to Canada on a regular basis, believing that the United States would not treat them favorably.
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?
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during her lifetime. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet Tubman (her married name was Araminta Ross). They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own shortly after, making her way to Pennsylvania. In the following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and others. She attempted to rescue her spouse on her third trip, but he had remarried and refused to go.
Tubman transported large numbers of fugitives to Canada on a regular basis, believing that the United States would not treat them favorably.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
Fairfield’s strategy was to go around the southern United States appearing as a slave broker. He managed to elude capture twice. He died in 1860 in Tennessee, during the American Reconstruction Era.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.
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
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.
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.
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.
Rack with Bells In 1860, an estimated 435,000 enslaved persons lived in Alabama, accounting for around 45 percent of the state’s entire population. Because no evidence of an organized underground railroad has been discovered in Alabama, scholars are forced to conclude that slaves seeking freedom in the state relied on their own survival skills, with assistance from some fellow slaves and free blacks, as well as some members of the white community, to achieve their freedom. Slave runaway estimates have also proven difficult for historians to come up with at any particular point in history.
- Most major plantations in the South, on the other hand, had slaves who managed to escape.
- However, many enslaved people who were able to do so chose to do so.
- Some attempted to reunite with family members who were residing on neighbouring homes.
- Some slaves may have sought freedom, even if it was only for a few days away from the farm, as a result of an overseer who had a reputation for treating slaves cruelly.
- Some fugitives disguised themselves as steamboat passengers in the goal of reaching Mobile, where they might fit in with the population of free blacks and slaves who were living on their own as if they were free.
- In an effort to curtail this kind of conduct, the Alabama government enacted an ordinance in the Alabama Code of 1852 that fined slave owners or masters of boats who permitted slaves to board their vessels without a pass.
- Some runaways pretended to be free blacks, Native Americans, or whites in order to avoid being apprehended.
For example, in Greene County in 1840, an escaped slave was caught by officials who believed him to be a Native American.
Another example is the case of a guy called London Fenderson, who was imprisoned in Mobile, Alabama, for being a fugitive slave.
Runaway slaves who were apprehended were often beaten and occasionally chained as punishment.
Kidnapping of enslaved employees was an issue for some owners, just as persons convincing slaves to leave their masters and travel to a free state was a problem for others.
In one occasion, a man kidnapped around 60 slaves belonging to the State Bank of Tuscaloosa County and transported them to Florida, where they were forced to labor on a slave farm.
Earlier this year in Mobile, a free man of color and a slave were both convicted guilty of inducing a slave to flee.
Mobile authorities, on the other hand, freed three other individuals who were accused of harboring and enticing slaves away from their masters.
Mobile police arrested an old black man who said he was free for allegedly harboring an escaped female slave.
One free lady of color who was suspected of harboring a runaway slave was ordered to post a bail of $1,000.
Other cases have involved black women who were officially considered slaves but were living as free people.
A free man of color who was suspected of keeping a slave was released from custody.
It will need further investigation to discover how the laws were applied and if the punishment differed for those accused of being black and those accused of being white.
Advertisement for a Runaway Slave A great deal may be learned about slave life and runaways through descriptions of fugitive slaves that were published in historical newspapers.
Some runaways were said to have been missing fingers or toes in some instances.
They were known to transport clothes and steal money from their masters.
Others brought personal belongings with them, such as musical equipment.
Most slaves fled by themselves or in small groups and concealed from authorities for several weeks at a time, according to historical records.
If fugitive slaves were apprehended, their owners were required to pay fines to get them released from prison.
As an example, if the slave had committed a serious offense, the reward could be in the range of $1,000 to $2,000.
From the spring of 1862 on, the Union Army often controlled much of Alabama’s Tennessee Valley as part of its campaign against the Confederacy.
Outside of this area of influence, union forces hardly reached the Black Belt and other districts of the state until early in the spring of 1865.
Resources that aren’t included on this page Franklin, John Hope, and Loren Schweninger are among others who have contributed to this work.
The Oxford University Press, New York, published this book in 1999.
In response to emancipation and reconstruction in Alabama, First Freedom: The Response of the Black Community in Alabama was published.
Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1972. Sellers, James Benson, and others. Slavery in the state of Alabama. Originally published in 1950 by the University of Alabama Press in Tuscaloosa.
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
Canada’s Role as the Final Station of the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and as a Spione
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
Canada’s Role as the Final Station on the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy: Freedom Fighter and Spy
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 most severe punishments, such as hundreds of lashing with a whip, burning, or hanging, were reserved for any blacks who were discovered in the process of assisting fugitive fugitives on the loose.
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.
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.
- As the network expanded, the railroad metaphor became more prevalent.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were usually on their tails, chasing them down.
- Historians who study the railroad, on the other hand, find it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
- Eric Foner is one of the historians that belongs to this group.
- Despite this, the Underground Railroad was at the center of the abolitionist struggle during the nineteenth century.
- Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist.
- Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography.
- 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.
Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and an abolitionist. As a halt on the Underground Railroad, his home served as an important link in the emancipation of slaves from the South to the United States’ northern climes. Cincinnati Museum Center took the photographs. “> While slavery was in effect, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the northern hemisphere during that time period.
However, even though it was not a genuine railroad, it fulfilled a similar function: it moved people across large distances.
Many of the people who worked on the Underground Railroad were motivated by a desire for justice and a desire to see slavery put out of business—a motivation that was so strong that they were willing to risk their lives and their own freedom in order to aid enslaved individuals in their escape from bondage and to keep them safe along their journey.
- The train metaphor became more and more prevalent as the network increased in size and complexity.
- It was known to as “stations” where the runaways were housed, while “station masters” were those who were in charge of concealing the captives.
- In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as members of a larger organization.
- It has been said that conductors regularly pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways off of plantations during the early days of the railroad.
- Often, the conductors and passengers went 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance for them.
- On a regular basis, patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were hard on their tails.
- Truth and fiction are difficult to distinguish in the minds of historians who study the railroad.
Instead, they argue that much of the action took place openly and in broad daylight.
He went back into the history of the railroad and discovered that, while a massive network existed that kept its actions hidden, the network grew so powerful that it was able to push the myth’s boundaries even farther.
It was the railroad that intensified racial tensions between northern and southern states and hence helped to precipitate the Civil War.
As a halt on the Underground Railroad, his home served as an important link in the emancipation of slaves from the South to the United States’ northern climes.
Civil WarNoun(1860-1865) An American struggle between the Union (north) and the Confederacy (south).
Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to escape to free territories.
Tyson Brown is a member of the National Geographic Society.
The National Geographic Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the exploration of the world’s natural wonders.
Gina Borgia is a member of the National Geographic Society. Jeanna Sullivan is a member of the National Geographic Society.
According to National Geographic Society’s Sarah Appleton, Margot Willis is a National Geographic Society photographer.
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How the Underground Railroad Worked
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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.
- Northerners were appalled.
- 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.
- Whites who armed slaves, which was often required during the treacherous path, faced the possibility of execution if caught.
- 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).
- Southern slave holders were not pleased with this and requested that the measure be put into effect immediately.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- However, they were more likely to carry on to Canada.
- 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.
- Once runaways arrived at their location, interracial organizations called asvigilance committees would aid them in creating a new life in their new environment.
- Successful runaways would occasionally attempt to repurchase enslaved family members, which was a risky strategy because it may potentially reveal their current whereabouts.
- Who were they, and how did they manage to collaborate in such a well guarded network?
How did people get involved with the Underground Railroad?
The fugitive’s trip to freedom may take as short as 24 hours, depending on where he or she was traveling from (on a train from Richmond, Va., to Philadelphia, for instance). Moreover, it might take years to complete (escaping on foot from the Deep South). How did the fugitives manage to get away? The majority of people believe that the Underground Railroad ran from slavery-torn southern states to free states in the northern United States and Canada. The bulk of fugitives made their way to Canada, where they would be protected from prosecution under the Fugitive Slave Act.
- Slaves were also able to flee to Spanish-controlled Mexico and Florida from the Deep South, where the voyage north was far more perilous.
- When he arrived, he would frequently be required to wait until someone could obtain safe passage for him on a northern boat or train – this was frequently accomplished via the use of bribes.
- However, they were more likely to travel on to Canada.
- Abolitionists in the North, however, were empowered by the legislation, since they could now argue that the South was forcing slavery on them.
- Once runaways arrived at their location, they would be assisted in building a new life by interracial organizations called asvigilance committees.
- It was common for successful runaways to attempt to purchase the freedom of enslaved family members, which was risky because it may potentially reveal their exact location.
A large number of individuals were required to labour to keep the Underground Railroad running. What were their identities, and how did they collaborate in such a well guarded network?
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 is estimated that there were around 3,200 “underground employees,” over half of whom were located in Ohio, according to some estimates. The fact that there was no formal or written organization was due to the importance placed on secrecy. Individual performance and overall reputation were used to determine who would be in charge. The majority of the persons who were participating in the Underground Railroad have been lost to history, and their experiences have gone unreported for many years in the public domain.
White Southerners whose ancestors assisted fugitives are still subjected to considerable social shame today.
A former slave from Maryland, Tubman was an escaped slave herself.
According to author Fergus M.
In other cases, she even threatened to murder them, which was a cruel necessity given the possibility that their panicked cries might be heard by slave hunters and they would be captured.
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 her stay alive.
Lots More Information
- It is estimated that there were around 3,200 “underground employees,” over half of whom were located in Ohio. However, because to the importance placed on secrecy, there was no official or written organization. Individual performance and general reputation were used to determine who would become the next leader. The majority of the people who were part in the Underground Railroad have been lost to history, and their experiences have gone unwritten for generations. And, as a result of the scarcity of written records, the anecdotes that have survived are largely found as footnotes in history textbooks. There is still considerable social shame attached to white Southerners whose relatives assisted fugitives in the South today. Harriet Tubman was the most well-known Underground Railroad conductor, and she was referred to as “the Moses of her people.” Tubman was an escaped slave from the state of Maryland. It wasn’t until she returned to the South for the first time that she realized that her free husband had chosen a new wife and was hesitant to accompany her. According to author Fergus M. Bordewich, this tragedy hardened her, which may explain why Tubman could not accept runaways who were terrified or distressed. In other cases, she even threatened to murder them, which was a terrible necessity given the possibility that their panicked cries might reveal their whereabouts to slave hunters. While making the perilous voyage 13 more times and personally guiding at least 70 slaves to freedom in New York and Canada, Tubman was aided by her lack of emotion.