What Is The Underground Railroad To Canada? (Perfect answer)

The Underground Railroad was a secret network of abolitionists (people who wanted to abolish slavery). They helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada.

  • The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by black slaves in the United States to escape to the free state, Canada. Those who helped people move from place to place were known as “conductors” and the fleeing slaves were called “passengers” or “cargo.” Safe places to stop to rest were called “stations.”

Why did the Underground Railroad go to Canada?

After 1850, most escaping enslaved people traveled all the way to Canada. They had to go to Canada to make sure they would be safe. The reason was that the United States Congress passed a law in 1850 called The Fugitive Slave Act. So, you could say that the Underground Railroad went from the American south to Canada.

How did the slaves travel to Canada?

Fearing for their safety in the United States after the passage of the first Fugitive Slave Law in 1793, over 30,000 slaves came to Canada via the Underground Railroad until the end of the American Civil War in 1865. They settled mostly in southern Ontario, but some also settled in Quebec and Nova Scotia.

What happened in underground to Canada?

Based partially on a true story, Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker follows a young slave girl, Julilly, in the American South. When her master falls ill, she and her mother are separated. What comes is a thrilling story of Julilly’s journey, as she tries to escape to Canada using the Underground Railroad.

What was the Underground Railroad meant for?

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early- to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans primarily to escape into free states and Canada.

Where did Harriet Tubman Go Canada?

Tubman therefore changed her escape route so that it ended in Canada. She then began and ended her rescues in St. Catharines, Canada West (Ontario), where she moved in 1851.

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 are in Canada today?

Prevalence. The Global Slavery Index estimates that on any given day in 2016 there were 17,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Canada, a prevalence of 0.5 victims for every thousand people in the country.

Is Underground to Canada a true story?

Based partially on a true story, the novel is set in the United States and Canada in the years leading up to the American Civil War and depicts the hard lives of slaves in the American South and the people who helped them escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad.

What year does Underground to Canada take place?

Between 1850 and 1860 alone, 15,000 to 20,000 fugitives reached the Province of Canada. It became the main terminus of the Underground Railroad. The newcomers migrated to various parts of what is now Ontario.

Why was underground to Canada banned?

It was published in 1977. Why it was challenged: Freedom to Read reports that Underground to Canada was challenged for offensive language.

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 long did the Underground Railroad take to travel?

The journey would take him 800 miles and six weeks, on a route winding through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, tracing the byways that fugitive slaves took to Canada and freedom.

5 Canadian stations of the Underground Railroad

One of the re-enactments of the Freedom Crossing (Wikimedia/Lynn DeLearie/ CC BY-SA 4.0). While there was no genuine railroad, there was a covert network of people — known as abolitionists — who assisted between 30,000 and 40,000 African Americans in their attempts to flee from slavery in the United States. Slaves who had been freed would find refuge in Canada, as well as in other northern states that had abolished slavery.

John Freeman Walls Underground Railroad MuseumLakeshore, Ontario

During the American Civil War, former slave John Freeman Walls and his white wife escaped from North Carolina and settled in Canada, where they established a family and constructed a log house. This cabin would go on to become one of Canada’s most renowned stations on the subterranean railroad, and it is still in use today.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic SiteDresden, Ontario

The abolitionist Josiah Henson served as the basis for the character Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and his renowned cabin was based on a house in Ontario, where he lived at the time of the novel’s publication. Henson was also an abolitionist, and his New Dawn Settlement served as a safe haven for other fugitives fleeing the law. In 1830, he managed to flee to Canada from Kentucky.

Sandwich First Baptist ChurchWindsor, Ontario

The Sandwich First Baptist Church played an important role in the Underground Railroad’s journey through the town. Originally known as Olde Sandwich Towne, it is now a neighbourhood inside the city of Windsor, and was awarded to newly emancipated residents in 1847 by the then-Queen Victoria. As part of Sunday services, the ringing of a specific bell and the beginning of a specific spiritual hymn served as an alert for runaways to seek shelter in the church’s trap door dungeon when bounty hunters passed by.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia/Public Domain)

Buxton National Historic SiteChatham, Ontario

The Elgin Settlement, which was one of the last sites on the Underground Railroad, is commemorated at the Buxton National Historic Site Museum, which is located on the grounds of the site. This village, founded in 1849 by Rev. William King, was noted for its exceptional educational system and eventually developed into a self-sufficient community of around 2,000 people. Families descended from the first settlers who chose to remain in Canada continue to reside in Buxton today.

Birchtown National Historic SiteBirchtown, Nova Scotia

Long before the Underground Railroad was established, African-American residents from both French and English backgrounds established themselves in communities such as Annapolis Royal and Birchtown, New Brunswick. Following the American Revolutionary War, these communities not only became a haven for freed slaves looking for refuge north of the border, but also for former Black soldiers in the British colonial military forces, known as Black Loyalists, who were hoping to transfer north to Canada after the war.

To Canada and Back Again: Immigration from the United States on the Underground Railroad (1840-1860)

The MA Public History Program at Western University students created this video.

Fugitive or Free?

Prior to 1850, runaway slaves who managed to make their way from the southern United States to the northern states were regarded to have gained their freedom. However, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the northern states were no longer considered a safe haven for fugitive slaves. Slavecatchers may be able to apprehend and return escaped slaves to their respective masters. In addition, anyone who had escaped slavery by emigrating to a free state years previously may be deported back to servitude under certain circumstances.

The same threat existed for all free blacks, regardless of race.

Once they had crossed into Upper Canada, all men, women, and children were free to go wherever they wanted.

In his artwork “Effects of the Fugitive Slave Law,” artist Theodore Kaufmann expressed his opposition to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. LC-USZC4-4550 is the Library of Congress’s catalog number for this item.

The Underground Railroad

In the United States, the Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses operated by abolitionists in both free and slave states, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom. Slavery was abolished because of the efforts of those who assisted slaves on their way to freedom – free blacks, Quakers, and other campaigners – who risked their lives fighting against it. Despite the fact that there was never a true railroad, safehouses were referred to as stations, and those who lived in them were referred to as stationmasters.

New Land, New Life

When it came to black men in Canada West (previously Upper Canada), they had the right to own property and vote if they satisfied certain qualifications. All black people had the ability to earn a living, marry, and have children. Building a new life in Canada was made possible thanks to the help of the Canadian government and abolitionist organisations in both Canada and the United States of America. Refugees were permitted to purchase land at a discounted cost, and educational subsidies were made available to them.

Did You Know?

The province of Upper Canada was renamed Canada West in 1841, and now it is a component of the modern-day Canadian province of Ontario.


When escaped slaves first arrived in Canada West, the vast majority of them chose to live near the United States border. Because of this, they were able to remain closer to family relatives who were distributed around the United States. During this time period, white folks acted in a largely neutral manner toward them. When fugitive slaves began to arrive in greater numbers in the United States around 1840, white residents began to feel threatened. Some people were concerned that these escaped slaves would be unable to work and would be forced to rely on government help instead.

The petition was eventually signed by over 100,000 people.

Creating Community

Black immigrants settled in a variety of towns and communities, including Hamilton, St. Catharine’s, Windsor, and Toronto, as well as other locations. The Chatham-Kent region of Canada West has the highest population of black immigrants and refugees, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. In the 1820s, a handful of all-black towns were formed in the United States. William Wilberforce, a former slave who created Wilberforce, was the world’s first community of this type. The Dawn Settlement was established in 1834 by escaped slave Josiah Henson.

  1. Later, the towns of Wilberforce and the Dawn Settlement were either abandoned or incorporated into other cities.
  2. The Buxton Mission is still in operation today in the town of North Buxton, Ontario.
  3. Some claimed it was the most effective means of protecting oneself, while others were concerned that it was contributing to the continuation of inequality.
  4. Elgin Settlement, located in what is now Chatham, Ontario, was established in 1849.

The Elgin Settlement as seen on a map from 1860. William King collection/e000755345, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson was born a slave in Maryland in 1789, and he and his family finally escaped to Canada in 1830, where they settled. Dawn Township, which later became known as the Dawn Colony, was built by him as an all-Black settlement. Henson made a name for himself as a Methodist preacher in the area, and he believed strongly in the significance of providing work and educational opportunities for black immigrants. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was first published in 1852, was based on the life of Uncle Tom.

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A neighborhood leader and “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, Josiah Henson was well-respected in his day.

Making Their Mark

Wherever they landed across Canada, black immigrants who arrived to the country via the Underground Railroad made significant contributions to the well-being of their respective communities. Many of them went on to become farmers, raising crops such as wheat, peas, tobacco, and hemp. Others were experienced tradespeople who worked as blacksmiths, shoemakers, and wagon makers, among other things. The majority of black women, like their white counterparts, did not have jobs outside the house. They cared for their children or earned a living as seamstresses and washerwomen in the factories.


Mrs. Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893), the daughter of an Underground Railroad “station master,” was an abolitionist pioneer and advocate for black refugees who came to Canada during the American Civil War. C-029977 is the number assigned by Library and Archives Canada. A number of publications were established in order to raise awareness of the opportunities available to black people in Canada, to disseminate news, and to advocate for the abolition of slavery. One of the early black newspapers in Canada, The Voice of the Fugitive was established in Sandwich, Canada West, in 1851 and was one of the country’s first black publications.

Following that, Mary Ann Shadd Cary started another newspaper, the Provincial Freeman, which she published until her death.

Shadd Cary was the first black woman to be elected to political office in the United States.

The Voice of the Fugitive was one of the first periodicals in Canada West to be published in order to raise awareness of the possibilities and services available to African-Americans. Amistad Research Center/American Missionary Association Archives ama0015 (Voice of the Fugitive, 1851).

Did You Know?

After meeting certain requirements, black men were granted the right to vote upon their arrival in Canada. Women in Canada were not granted the right to vote in federal elections until 1919, and Aboriginal people were not granted the right to vote until 1960.


While on the surface, life looked to be far better in Canada, this newfound independence had its limitations. Despite the fact that slaves were granted freedom in Canada, they were nevertheless subjected to racism, persecution, and discrimination. Blacks were pushed away from Canada as a result of these beliefs, while other circumstances drew them back towards the United States over time. The passage of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which ended slavery, resulted in a significant improvement in the conditions of black people in the United States.

Those who remained in Canada continued to make contributions to their communities, and over time, they were successful in breaking down many racial barriers.


Upper Canada’s John Graves Simcoe signs the Act Against Slavery into law in the year 1793. The British Emancipation Act of 1834 formally abolishes the system of slavery across the British Empire, with the exception of the colonies. The Dawn Settlement is established near Dresden, Canada West, in the year 1842. The Elgin Settlement, Canada West, is established in 1849. The Fugitive Slave Act is passed in the United States of America in 1850. Sandwich, Canada West, is the site of the inaugural publication of The Voice of the Fugitive newspaper in 1851.

  • Henry W.
  • The American Civil War began in 1861.
  • The American Civil War comes to a conclusion in 1865.
  • – In Washington, D.C., Mary Ann Shadd Cary succumbs to her injuries.

Experience The Underground Railroad

During the 1850s and 1860s, a large number of individuals were able to flee slavery to what is now known as Canada. The Underground Railroad was the name given to the covert network of paths that they employed. Paul Collins’ Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad is a novel on the life of Harriet Tubman. Free blacks, white sympathizers, and abolitionists all assisted fugitives in their quest for freedom in a new nation by guiding, sheltering, and supporting them. As many as 30,000 fugitives utilized the “railroad” to get away from the terrible reality of being held in bondage, according to some historians.

  1. There are a variety of activities taking place at the library to commemorate Black History Month, including a one-of-a-kind trip on the “railroad.” Down To Earth Education offers the opportunity to “journey” along the Underground Railroad.
  2. Learn about life on a plantation as well as the lives and times of one of the most well-known conductors of all time, Harriet Tubman, who is featured in this documentary.
  3. Hillcrest Branch Office On Friday, February 9th, from 12:30 to 2:30 pm Due to the fact that Black History Month is in full swing, there are a plethora of free activities that you can attend at the library.
  4. It has more than 16000 items in print and multimedia formats, making it a valuable resource for readers of all ages.

Are you planning on staying in for the night? Then why not take use of Kanopy’s free video streaming service? There are hundreds of videos to pick from on this new site, with many of them focusing on black history and culture. For additional information, please see our Getting Started Guide.

Settlements in Canada

Written by Dr. Bryan Walls After the War of 1812, American officers stationed at Fort Malden (now Amherstburg, Ontario) brought back tales of a land where fugitive slaves were welcomed, which they shared with their fellow citizens in the United States. The outcome was that large numbers of enslaved freedom seekers were able to make their way to Amhersburg. During a trip of Upper Canada in 1844, the renowned abolitionist Levi Coffin characterized Amherstburg as “the chief terminal place in Canada of the Underground Railroad.” Between 1817 and 1822, the township of Ferry, which would eventually be known as Windsor and Sandwich Township, served as the initial refuge for many of the first significant wave of fugitives to enter Upper Canada.

The Matthew Settlement, Edgar, Mt.

Pleasant, Rochester and Harrow.

This town represented a ray of hope for a better life, a yearning shared by Underground Railroad migrants in colonies across Canada at the time of its founding.

The Refugee Home Society Settlement

My ancestors acquired land from the Refugee Home Society at the Puce River colony, which was then known as the Puce River Settlement. In the middle of the nineteenth century, there was woods and trees on every side. The Refugee Home Society Settlement land proposal was suggested by Henry Bibb, the founder of the “Voice of the Fugitive” newspaper, with assistance from the American Missionary Association, and was eventually approved. Lots were acquired and then resold to refugees at a low price on favorable circumstances.

  1. John and Jane Walls were worried about their personal safety as well as the protection of their children.
  2. When it came down to it, the truth was weirder than fiction.
  3. He is a Baptist, and his life narrative is a little strange.
  4. After his previous master passed away, his mistress relocated to Canada with her children, bringing this man with her.
  5. He owns a little farm and has paid off his debts.
  6. Wheeler, a former Oberlin student, now teaches at Little River Elementary School, which is a model of excellence.
  7. Because many policies and judgments were incorrect, the Refugee Home Society was unable to achieve the aims set out by its founding members.

A more accurate measure of its effectiveness, however, is the fact that many families have continued to live there today in harmony with their neighbors, and some of these families have roads named after them, such as “Walls Road.”

Underground Railroad Settlements were located throughout Ontario, Canada

During the nineteenth century, small Black communities were firmly established in six areas of Canada West: along the Detroit frontier, that is at Windsor, Sandwich, and Amherstburg and their environs; in Chatham and its surrounding area, where the all-Black settlements of Dawn and Elgin were established; in what was then the central section of the province, particularly London and the Queen’s Bush; and in the Black settlement of Elgin, which was established in the late nineteenth century.” Beyond these concentrations of Black people, tiny groups of Blacks and individual Black Families were established across Canada’s western regions,” says the author.

The Elgin Settlement / The Buxton Mission

Buxton, Ontario, is home to one of the most successful Canadian communities. The Presbyterian minister Reverend William King created the Elgin Settlement, which contains the Buxton Mission. Following the death of his father-in-law, King acquired 14 slaves, to which he later added another before traveling north and freeing them all in the state of Ohio. King was resolved to establish a shelter for African-Americans who were entering Canada. On November 28, 1849, over the opposition of Edwin Larwill, a White radical, and other allies, King established the Elgin Settlement with the help of 15 slaves from the state of Ohio.

  1. The 360,000 acres of property in Raleigh Township were divided into 2,000 acre lots, which were acquired by new immigrants.
  2. A church and school building, as well as a post office, were constructed in the year 1850.
  3. Educating their children was extremely important to the settlers in Elgin, and their Buxton Mission School was significantly superior to the government-run schools.
  4. All were drawn to the university because of the high level of education provided.
  5. During the course of the settlement’s growth and development, the settlers overcame the antagonism and prejudice of their White neighbors.

Education, hard effort, and imagination were all important factors in achieving liberation from slavery, just as they are today. Modern-day enslavers such as drugs, hostility, low self-esteem, and violence are just a few of the threats that may rob people of their freedom in today’s modern world.

The Underground Railroad

Abolitionists in Upper Canada were also active in a more clandestine fight against slavery in North America known as the Underground Railroad, which was headed by abolitionists in the United States. By the middle of the nineteenth century, abolitionists and Quaker supporters had constructed the Underground Railroad to aid enslaved Blacks in their attempts to flee from the southern United States to Canada. The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad in the traditional sense.

  1. One of its most remarkable characteristics was the lack of a formal structure to it.
  2. The road to freedom was not an easy one to travel.
  3. In order to escape being kidnapped, they typically journeyed at night and hid in marshes and forests during the day to avoid being apprehended by the authorities.
  4. Many people risked their lives after establishing themselves in Canada in order to return to the United States and assist their fellow brothers and sisters in achieving freedom in the country.
  5. Tubman was born in 1820 in Virginia and fled slavery as a young lady before settling in St.
  6. During her stint as a guide on the Underground Railroad, she returned to the United States 19 times, each time risking her own life to assist others in their attempts to get to Canada.

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.

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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.

Slaves Freed

Estimates range between 6,000 and 10,000.

Prominent Figures

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

Related Reading:

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

The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad

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

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

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.

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. More information may be found at The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.

Fugitive Slave Acts

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

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

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

Harriet Tubman

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

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

Frederick Douglass

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

Agent,” according to the document.

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

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

Who Ran the Underground Railroad?

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

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

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

John Brown

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

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

End of the Line

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

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


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

The Underground Railroad of 1812: Paths to freedom along the Canadian border (U.S. National Park Service)

This political cartoon parodies British efforts to destabilize the American slave economy, as shown by the American Antiquarian Society (AAS). A year before the events of 1807, Peter Denison, a slave in Detroit, Michigan, was indentured to Elijah Brush for a year, after which Brush awarded Denison his freedom. Brush, it appears, had done this action without the knowledge or consent of his owner, Catherine Tucker, who was there. Tucker expressed his displeasure with the emancipation and sought Denison’s return.

Catherine Tucker’s property, Judge Augustus Woodward ruled in the case.

Despite the fact that the Northwest Ordinance had prohibited slavery in the region after 1787, the territories that the British surrendered to the United States in 1796 were subject to a different interpretation, and Denison was considered to have remained a slave under the terms of the treaty.

Following the Chesapeake-Leopard incident in 1807, territorial governor William Hull granted Denison “a formal permission,” allowing him to establish a military unit comprised of free blacks and fugitive slaves in the Chesapeake region.

This group of men, according to Hull, had showed an unquestionable “connection to our government, as well as a resolve to help in the protection of our country.” A short time later, the situation that had forced Hull to turn to Denison and the city’s black population had passed, and the governor ordered that the militia be disbanded.

  1. Denison’s men had fled from bondage in Canada to the freedom of Michigan.
  2. Slavery had been abolished in Canada in 1793, but not all enslaved people were freed at once; the institution was phased out over time.
  3. Although there were a few enslaved persons living in Canada at the time of the War of 1812’s conclusion, Canadian law prevented the further entry of slavery.
  4. William Hull, the Territorial Governor of Michigan (NPSD) During the summer of 1812, Governor Hull gave commissions to Captain Denison, Lieutenant Ezra Burgess, and Ensign Bossett, all of whom were African-American men of color.
  5. Their services would soon be required when the United States declared war on Britain in June 1812, with Detroit serving as the first theater of action; Denison was believed to have been taken after Hull surrendered the city to British General Isaac Brock.
  6. John’s Church of England, which was located immediately east of Detroit and across the river.
  7. He, his wife, and his other children most certainly crossed the border into Canada, demonstrating how the route to freedom had altered considerably northward to include the freedom of Canada within a few short years.

Peter Denison, reportedly as a free man, took use of this chance to travel north to Canada, without a doubt.

At Ontario Underground Railroad Sites, Farming and Liberty (Published 2017)

The British North American provinces, now known as Canada, were among the most illustrious destinations on the Underground Railroad’s route through North America. The fleeing slaves, who were mostly African-American men, women, and children, left the American South and made their way to Canada. The vast majority of them relocated to the southwestern area of Ontario, where many of them developed new identities as African-Canadians in their new home. The spirit of the railroad is undoubtedly evident at each of the three Ontario museums covered in this article.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site and Museum

The Josiah Henson Museum, located on the banks of the Sydenham River, is dedicated to the life and times of a towering figure in American history: the Maryland-born freedom fighter Josiah Henson. His family, including his wife and small children, went to Dresden in 1830, where they braved starvation and hardship on the Underground Railroad until they reached their destination. He farmed, became a preacher, and rose to prominence as an abolitionist and community leader in the South. He and other abolitionists, both black and white, formed the neighboring Dawn community as a haven for fugitive slaves and free African-Americans who were no longer able to live in a society that was opposed to their liberation.

  • Henson is widely regarded as the inspiration for the title character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which was published in 1852.
  • Henson had written his own narrative before Stowe released her novel.
  • One exhibit goes into great detail on Henson’s struggle to get his liberation.
  • At least 500 freedom seekers made their home in Dawn, where Henson and his colleagues established the British-American Institute, which was one of the few places where black youngsters could obtain a quality education at the time.
  • A collection of whips, chains, branding devices (thumb screws, shackles), and other implements that were used in the daily regimen of slave torture and punishment on plantations is on exhibit there as well.

When I ran my hands over the leg shackles, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. Photo courtesy of Tony Cenicola/The New York Times.

Buxton National Historic Site and Museum

In 1849, a white Louisiana slaveholder and preacher named William King emancipated his slaves and traveled with them to the Canadian province of Ontario, where he purchased hundreds of acres of property. Buxton, also known as the Elgin Settlement, was established by former slaves and the King. Families of freedom seekers purchased land from King and settled themselves, resulting in the development of Buxton as a thriving farming town. Despite the fact that the majority of black families have vanished, some continue to exist.

Today, the Princes are hard at work to ensure that the tale of the Buxton settlement is not lost.

Prince, the curator, frequently performs historical re-enactments, Mr.

) (One of them, “A Shadow on the Household,” relates the story of Maria Weems, a black adolescent who disguised herself as a male in order to flee the country and find freedom.) Multiple exhibitions in the museum tell the stories of early settlers and the history of the African diaspora in Canada, among other things.

  1. A large number of men from Buxton and the surrounding area enlisted in the Union army and fought in the Civil War in the United States.
  2. A barn from the nineteenth century is situated on the grounds of the museum.
  3. When guests come to the museum and are invited to pick up actual shackles and touch the logs of an 1850 log home that were handhewn, Ms.
  4. “We are a hands-on community museum,” Ms.
  5. During “Homecoming,” which takes place every year on Labour Day weekend in September, the tale of Buxton’s Underground Railroad freedom seekers is honored.
  6. The weekend will feature Civil War re-enactments, a parade, and a baseball game, which is a favorite sport of early immigrants in Buxton, Massachusetts.

Walls Historic Site and Underground Railroad Museum

A North Carolina slaveholder named Daniel Walls died in 1845, leaving his slaves and plantation to his wife Jane and their four children. Daniel Walls was a slaveholder in North Carolina. Walls had liberated his faithful slave, John Walls, and had told him to watch after Jane and his family while he was on vacation in Mexico. The former slave and his mistress were smitten with one other. As a consequence of their knowledge that interracial marriage was illegal in North Carolina, as well as the knowledge that their love may result in their deaths, John and Jane as well as their children departed the state.

In Puce township, which is 25 miles east of the Windsor-Detroit boundary, they made their landing.

The Walls married and had six children together, and over time, they added an additional 180 acres to their property.

Photograph by Tony Cenicola for The New York Times With the help of another 100 black families, the Walls helped to build the town of Puce, which now boasts a thriving community with multiple churches, schools, and farms as well as a grist mill, a saw mill, and stores.


It is the John Graves Simcoe House, named for the first lieutenant governor of what was then known as Upper Canada, who was an abolitionist, that is the subject of this article.

The original log home of John and Jane Walls still survives, and within is the bed on which they slept when they first arrived in the area.

The Peace Chapel, a modest wooden structure close to the stream that runs through the site, is also included in the museum’s collection of exhibits and services.

Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination.

The museum was a summer destination for Ms.


Her children, Bryan and Anna Walls, remember her sitting near the chapel, her eyes closed in intense thought.

On one of the days I was there, a conductor guided people through the thick shrubbery.

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