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 were the struggles of the Underground Railroad?
If they were caught, any number of terrible things could happen to them. Many captured fugitive slaves were flogged, branded, jailed, sold back into slavery, or even killed. Not only did fugitive slaves have the fear of starvation and capture, but there were also threats presented by their surroundings.
What food did they eat during the Underground Railroad?
In all contexts, enslaved people would have likely grown and eaten okra, corn, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes, as well as raised pigs, chickens, and goats, some for market.
How many slaves were caught on the Underground Railroad?
Estimates vary widely, but at least 30,000 slaves, and potentially more than 100,000, escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
What is the most important thing about the Underground Railroad?
The underground railroad provided food, shelter, clean clothing, and sometimes even help finding jobs for those seeking freedom. It is unclear when and how the term Underground Railroad came to be used for this network.
How effective was the Underground Railroad?
Ironically the Fugitive Slave Act increased Northern opposition to slavery and helped hasten the Civil War. The Underground Railroad gave freedom to thousands of enslaved women and men and hope to tens of thousands more. In both cases the success of the Underground Railroad hastened the destruction of slavery.
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 long did slaves 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 do for fun?
During their limited leisure hours, particularly on Sundays and holidays, slaves engaged in singing and dancing. Though slaves used a variety of musical instruments, they also engaged in the practice of “patting juba” or the clapping of hands in a highly complex and rhythmic fashion. A couple dancing.
What did slaves do in the winter?
In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as ” playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey ” (p.
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.
What state ended slavery first?
In 1780, Pennsylvania became the first state to abolish slavery when it adopted a statute that provided for the freedom of every slave born after its enactment (once that individual reached the age of majority). Massachusetts was the first to abolish slavery outright, doing so by judicial decree in 1783.
Were quilts used in the Underground Railroad?
Two historians say African American slaves may have used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad. Quilts with patterns named “wagon wheel,” “tumbling blocks,” and “bear’s paw” appear to have contained secret messages that helped direct slaves to freedom, the pair claim.
What role did the Underground Railroad play?
The Underground Railroad provided hiding places, food, and often transportation for the fugitives who were trying to escape slavery. Along the way, people also provided directions for the safest way to get further north on the dangerous journey to freedom.
How does Underground Railroad end?
In the end, Royal is killed and a grief-stricken Cora is caught again by Ridgeway. Ridgeway forces Cora to take him to an Underground Railroad station, but as they climb down the entrance’s rope ladder she pulls Ridgeway off and they fall to the ground.
Who helped organize the Underground Railroad?
In the early 1800s, Quaker abolitionist Isaac T. Hopper set up a network in Philadelphia that helped enslaved people on the run.
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
American bondwoman Harriet Tubman, née Araminta Ross, (born ca. 1820 in Dorchester County in the U.S.—died March 10, 1913 in Auburn, New York, U.S.), who managed to flee slavery in the South and rise to prominence as an abolitionist before to the American Civil War. As part of the Underground Railroad, which was an extensive covert network of safe homes built specifically for this reason, she escorted scores of enslaved individuals to freedom in the North. Araminta Ross, who was born into slavery, subsequently assumed the first name of her mother, Harriet, as her own.
A terrible brain injury occurred when she was approximately 12 years old, when she apparently refused to assist an overseer in punishing another enslaved person.
Her marriage to John Tubman, a free Black man, took place around the year 1844.
She left behind her husband (who refused to leave), parents, and siblings in order to escape.
- Over the next decade, she made a total of around 13 increasingly risky expeditions into Maryland, during which time she transported over 70 runaway enslaved persons via the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada.
- According to reports, if someone opted to turn back, putting the mission’s safety at risk, she threatened them with a revolver and stated, “You’ll be free or you’ll die.” She was also resourceful, coming up with a variety of ways to improve her chances of success in the end.
- Tubman became renowned as the “Moses of her people” after becoming the most famous conductor on the railroad’s system.
- When Tubman was ultimately apprehended, slaveholders offered rewards totaling $40,000 for his apprehension.
- She was referred to as “General” Tubman by John Brown, who sought her advice regarding his own plans to lead an anti-slavery attack on a government arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now in West Virginia).
- In the years 1862 to 1865, she worked with the Union army in South Carolina as a scout, nurse, and laundress during the American Civil War.
- James Montgomery.
- During World War II, Tubman received such a meager wage that she had to rely on her baking business to make ends meet.
- Former abolitionist colleagues and people of Auburn rallied behind the house, which remained in operation for several years after her death.
- She petitioned for a government pension for her service during the Civil War in the late 1860s and again in the late 1990s.
A private measure offering for a $20 monthly stipend was enacted by Congress some 30 years after her work was recognized by the nation. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the editors write about: Jeff Wallenfeldt has made the most current revisions and additions to this page.
A Dangerous Path to Freedom
Traveling through the Underground Railroad to seek their freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, in a short amount of time in order to escape. They accomplished this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were rushing after them in the night. Slave owners were not the only ones who sought for and apprehended fleeing slaves. For the purpose of encouraging people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters offering monetary compensation for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
- They would have to fend off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them while trekking for lengthy periods of time in the wilderness, as well as cross dangerous terrain and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the arrest of fugitive slaves since they were regarded as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the law at the time.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the southern states, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’ American Memory and America’s Library collections.
He did not escape via the Underground Railroad, but rather on a regular railroad.
Since he was a fugitive slave who did not have any “free papers,” he had to borrow a seaman’s protection certificate, which indicated that a seaman was a citizen of the United States, in order to prove that he was free.
Unfortunately, not all fugitive slaves were successful in their quest for freedom.
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson, and John Parker were just a few of the people who managed to escape slavery using the Underground Railroad system.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet in diameter. When he was finally let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
Train conductors on the Underground Railroad were free persons who provided assistance to escaped slaves moving via the Underground Railroad system. Runaway slaves were assisted by conductors, who provided them with safe transportation to and from train stations. They were able to accomplish this under the cover of darkness, with slave hunters on their tails. Many of these stations would be in the comfort of their own homes or places of work, which was convenient. They were in severe danger as a result of their actions in hiding fleeing slaves; nonetheless, they continued because they believed in a cause bigger than themselves, which was the liberation thousands of oppressed human beings.
- They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
- Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
- With the following words from one of his songs, abolitionist poet John Whittier paid respect to Walker’s valiant actions: “Take a step forward with your muscular right hand, brave ploughman of the sea!
- She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
- He went on to write a novel.
- John Parker is yet another former slave who escaped and returned to slave states in order to aid in the emancipation of others.
Rankin’s neighbor and fellow conductor, Reverend John Rankin, was a collaborator in the Underground Railroad project.
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were unquestionably anti-slavery, and they were not alone in their views.
Individuals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur and Lewis Tappan founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which marked the beginning of the abolitionist movement.
The group published an annual almanac that featured poetry, paintings, essays, and other abolitionist material.
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who rose to prominence as an abolitionist after escaping from slavery.
His other abolitionist publications included the Frederick Douglass Paper, which he produced in addition to delivering public addresses on themes that were important to abolitionists.
Anthony was another well-known abolitionist who advocated for the abolition of slavery via her speeches and writings.
For the most part, she based her novel on the adventures of escaped slave Josiah Henson.
Efforts of Abolitionists Telling Their Story:Fugitive Slave Narratives
Henry Bibb was born into slavery in Kentucky in the year 1815, and he was the son of a slave owner. After several failed efforts to emancipate himself from slavery, he maintained the strength and persistence to continue his struggle for freedom despite being captured and imprisoned numerous times. His determination paid off when he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then on to Canada with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, which had been highly anticipated. The following is an excerpt from his tale, in which he detailed one of his numerous escapes and the difficulties he faced as a result of his efforts.
- I began making preparations for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the shackles that tied me as a slave as soon as the clock struck twelve.
- On the twenty-fifth of December, 1837, the long-awaited day had finally arrived when I would put into effect my previous determination, which was to flee for Liberty or accept death as a slave, as I had previously stated.
- It took every ounce of moral strength I have to keep my emotions under control as I said goodbye to my small family.
- Despite the fact that every incentive was extended to me in order to flee if I want to be free, and the call of liberty was booming in my own spirit, ‘Be free, oh, man!
- I was up against a slew of hurdles that had gathered around my mind, attempting to bind my wounded soul, which was still imprisoned in the dark prison of mental degeneration.
- Furthermore, the danger of being killed or arrested and deported to the far South, where I would be forced to spend the rest of my days in hopeless bondage on a cotton or sugar plantation, all conspired to discourage me.
- The moment has come for me to follow through on my commitment.
- This marked the beginning of the construction of what was known as the underground rail route to Canada.
For nearly forty-eight hours, I pushed myself to complete my journey without food or rest, battling against external difficulties that no one who has never experienced them can comprehend: “not knowing when I might be captured while traveling among strangers, through cold and fear, braving the north winds while wearing only a thin layer of clothing, pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not a single house in which I could enter to protect me from the storm.” This is merely one of several accounts penned by runaway slaves who were on the run from their masters.
Sojourner Truth was another former slave who became well-known for her work to bring slavery to an end.
Green and many others, including Josiah Henson, authored autobiographies in which they described their own personal experiences.
Perhaps a large number of escaped slaves opted to write down their experiences in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or perhaps they did so in order to help folks learn from the mistakes of the past in order to create a better future for themselves.
6 Strategies Harriet Tubman and Others Used to Escape Along the Underground Railroad
Despite the horrors of slavery, the decision to run was not an easy one. Sometimes escaping meant leaving behind family and embarking on an adventure into the unknown, where harsh weather and a shortage of food may be on the horizon. Then there was the continual fear of being apprehended. On both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, so-called slave catchers and their hounds were on the prowl, apprehending runaways — and occasionally free Black individuals likeSolomon Northup — and taking them back to the plantation where they would be flogged, tortured, branded, or murdered.
In total, close to 100,000 Black individuals were able to flee slavery in the decades leading up to the Civil War.
The majority, on the other hand, chose to go to the Northern free states or Canada.
1: Getting Help
Harriet Tubman, maybe around the 1860s. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. No matter how brave or brilliant they were, few enslaved individuals were able to free themselves without the assistance of others. Even the smallest amount of assistance, such as hidden instructions on how to get away and who to trust, may make a significant difference. The most fortunate, on the other hand, were those who followed so-called “conductors,” like as Harriet Tubman, who, after escaping slavery in 1849, devoted her life to the Underground Railroad.
Tubman, like her other conductors, built a network of accomplices, including so-called “stationmasters,” who helped her hide her charges in barns and other safe havens along the road.
She was aware of which government officials were receptive to bribery.
Among other things, she would sing particular tunes or impersonate an owl to indicate when it was time to flee or when it was too hazardous to come out of hiding.
Photograph of Harriet Tubman taken around 1850. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (also known as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)) Few enslaved persons were able to free themselves without the assistance of others, no matter how brave or brilliant they were. Small acts of assistance, like whispered advice on how to get away and who to trust, can make a significant difference. Following so-called “conductors,” like as Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery in 1849 and committed her life to the Underground Railroad, were those who were most successful.
Tubman, like her other conductors, developed a network of accomplices, including so-called “stationmasters,” who were responsible for storing her charges in barns and other safe homes along the route.
Which officials were receptive to bribery was something she was aware of.
It was her way of signaling when it was time to flee or when it was too hazardous to come out of hiding, for example, by singing particular tunes or imitating an owl. Besides that, she sent coded letters and messengers with her.
4: Codes, Secret Pathways
Circa 1887, Harriet Tubman (far left) is shown with her family and neighbors at her home in Auburn, New York. Photograph courtesy of MPI/Getty Images The Underground Railroad was almost non-existent in the Deep South, where only a small number of slaves were able to flee. While there was less pro-slavery attitude in the Border States, individuals who assisted enslaved persons there still faced the continual fear of being ratted out by their neighbors and punished by the law enforcement authorities.
In the case of an approaching fugitive, for example, the stationmaster may get a letter referring to them as “bundles of wood” or “parcels.” The terms “French leave” and “patter roller” denoted a quick departure, whilst “slave hunter” denoted a slave hunter.
5: Buying Freedom
The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, functioned openly and shamelessly for long of its duration, despite the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which prescribed heavy fines for anybody proven to have helped runaways. Stationmasters in the United States claimed to have sheltered thousands of escaped slaves, and their activities were well documented. A former enslaved man who became a stationmaster in Syracuse, New York, even referred to himself in writing as the “keeper of the Underground Railroad depot” in his hometown of Syracuse, New York.
At times, abolitionists would simply purchase the freedom of an enslaved individual, as they did in the case of Sojourner Truth.
Besides that, they worked to sway public opinion by funding talks by Truth and other former slaves to convey the miseries of bondage to public attention.
In spite of the introduction of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which prescribed heavy sanctions for anybody proven to have assisted runaways, the Underground Railroad functioned openly and shamelessly for most of its existence. Stationmasters in the United States claimed to have harbored thousands of fugitive slaves and made extensive public announcements about their activities. Even in writing, a former enslaved man who became a stationmaster in Syracuse, New York, referred to himself as the “keeper of the Underground Railroad depot” in his hometown.
In certain cases, abolitionists would simply purchase the freedom of an enslaved individual, like they did with Sojourner Truth, to achieve their objectives.
They also used the legal system, litigating, for example, to get the release of Truth’s five-year-old son from detention center custody. Besides that, they worked to shift public opinion by funding talks by Truth and other ex-slaves to bring the evils of bondage to public attention.
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, functioned openly and shamelessly for long of its duration, despite the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which prescribed heavy fines for anybody proven to have assisted runaways. Some stationmasters claimed to have housed thousands of fugitive slaves and made extensive public announcements about their activities. Even in writing, a former enslaved man who became a stationmaster in Syracuse, New York, referred to himself as the “keeper of the Underground Railroad depot.” Meanwhile, so-called “stockholders” gathered funds for the Underground Railroad, which funded anti-slavery groups that offered ex-slaves with food, clothes, money, housing, and job-placement services.
They also used the legal system, litigating, for example, to obtain the release of Truth’s five-year-old son from detention center custody.
- Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794
- The Slave Trade Ban was implemented in 1808
- Vestal and Levi Coffin established an escape route for slaves in 1820
- The Missouri Compromise was implemented in 1820
- Denmark Vesey founded Charleston in 1822
- Nat Turner founded Philadelphia in 1831
- The American Anti-Slavery Society was established in Philadelphia in 1833
- The Mexican-American War was implemented in 1846-1848
- Harriet Tubman founded Harpers Ferry in 1859
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were well-versed in how to take advantage of any and all available opportunities. Freedom-seekers rested during the day and traveled the majority of their long-distance (5-10 mile) journeys at night, when they were less likely to be seen. Whenever it was necessary to travel during the day on the train, passengers took on errands and activities to give the impression that they were employed by someone in the vicinity. In spite of the fact that fleeing during the winter may be risky due to the severely cold environment of the northern hemisphere, the winter provided significantly longer periods of darkness under which to seek refuge.
- The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, has spawned a great deal of legend surrounding the signals that comrades would transmit to one another.
- For further information on more songs from this era, please see the Music in African American History lesson on EDSITEment’s website.
- While historians are divided on whether or not songs and textiles may have been used to transmit secret messages in the Underground Railroad system, they remain vital components of African American culture in the nineteenth century, regardless of whether they were utilized to do so.
- For a more detailed account of an Underground Railroad site financed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, see The President of the Underground Railroad (also known as the Underground Railroad President).
Visit the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Freedom on the Move website to read about resistance stories and analyze thousands of “runaway advertising” published in newspapers. Activities for the Lesson
Activity 1. The Life of Harriet Tubman
All feasible angles were utilized by the Underground Railroad’s conductors to their advantage. Freedom-seekers rested during the day and traveled the majority of the journey (5-10 miles) at night, when they were less likely to be seen by onlookers. Even when traveling during the afternoon, travelers used their time to do errands and do chores to give the impression that they were employed by someone in the neighborhood. Winter might be a perilous season to leave owing to the severely cold environment of the northern hemisphere, but also provided far longer periods of darkness under which to seek refuge.
- As a result, a great deal of legend has developed around the signals that allies would transmit to one another while traveling on the Underground Railroad.
- In order to learn more about additional songs from this era, please see the Music in African American History lesson on EDSITEment’s website.
- While historians are divided on whether or not songs and textiles may have been used to transmit hidden messages in the Underground Railroad system, they remain vital components of African American culture in the nineteenth century, regardless of whether or not they were employed.
- To learn more about an Underground Railroad site financed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, visit this website.
- Activities for the Lesson Plan
- What attributes or abilities did Tubman possess that distinguished her as an especially effective leader on the Underground Railroad
- And In what ways did Tubman’s allies assist her, and who were they? Why should Harriet Tubman be regarded as a significant figure in the history of the United States
Activity 2. Conducting the Underground Railroad
Students can work in pairs or small groups to evaluate primary materials and reply to the questions that have been set forth by the instructor. All of the letters and papers that were utilized during this activity may be used into the mapping activity and evaluation process as well.
After reading this letter from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman, take some time to discuss the following questions.
- What, according to Douglass, is the fundamental difference between himself and Tubman
- Was there anything in Douglass’s letter that revealed what he thought of Tubman’s deed? What is it that Douglass wants Tubman to be recognized for?
What, according to Douglass, is the fundamental difference between himself and Tubman; and Was there anything in Douglass’s letter that revealed what he thought of Tubman’s deed? Exactly why Douglass want to honor Tubman is not known.
- What does Garrett have to say about Tubman’s personality
- What kind of knowledge does Garrett have regarding assisting freedom-seekers in their attempts to elude slavery? When it comes to Tubman, how does Garrett feel? Look for proof as well as inferences from his tone of voice
After reading about Harriet Tubman’s role in the Civil War and subsequently the records relating to her fight to collect recompense for her efforts, discuss the following questions with your classmates.
- Describe the roles that Tubman played throughout the Civil War. How did her previous experience as a conductor on the Underground Railroad benefit her
- What did she want to do when she finished her military service? What obstacles did Tubman have to overcome in order to receive what she requested
- In the end, what was the result of this conflict
- What was it about Tubman that caused him to have such difficulties? Is there anything that can be done to rectify the situation?
Activity 3. Mapping the Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad produced a large number of lines that went in practically every direction. Some were more successful than others in their endeavors. Detail one route of the Underground Railroad and offer information about that route, using the resources listed below and the handout provided. Include the following information:
- States that are free and/or slave along the path
- During the winter months, the weather varies from state to state. Terrain (mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, and other natural features)
- How many miles does it take to get from point A to point B? If relevant, notable cities should be included.
In addition to utilizing Google maps to locate the Underground Railroad, students should examine the Historic Hudson’s People Not Property website to learn more about the railroad. This interactive website describes what it was like to be enslaved and how it felt, as well as the implications and trade-offs that enslaved people were forced to make on a regular basis in their efforts to oppose tyranny and emancipation. Lesson Extensions includes a list of maintained Underground Railroad locations in each state, which may be found farther down on this page.
Assessment The students will write a proposal to Congress in order to synthesize the information they have learned about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.
Among the options include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The depiction of Harriet Tubman on U.S. banknotes
- Considering naming a highway or other public place in her name
- Erecting a statue or monument in her honor The declaration of a national holiday every year
Students will argue for Tubman’s significance in history, what sort of recognition she should get, and why a certain day, location, and media was chosen. Students will use primary materials to support their arguments. Their submission should be backed with a prototype, mock-up, or simulation that will provide Congress an idea of what they would be receiving as an award. Students can submit their recommendations to their representatives once they have been reviewed by a teacher. Extensions to the Lesson
Historic Underground Railroad Sites
Students will argue for Tubman’s significance in history, what sort of recognition she should get, and why a certain day, location, and media was chosen. Students will use primary materials as evidence to support their arguments. In order to give Congress an understanding of what they are proposing, they should provide a prototype, mock-up, or simulation of the award. Students can submit their recommendations to their elected representatives after they have been reviewed by a teacher or a committee.
National Archival Collections
Students will use original materials to argue for Tubman’s significance in history, what sort of tribute she should get, and why a certain day, venue, and media was chosen. Their proposal should be backed with a prototype, mock-up, or simulation that will provide Congress an idea of what they would be receiving as an award. Students can submit their recommendations to their elected representatives after they have been reviewed by a teacher. Extensions to the lesson
Regional Archival Collections
This is a small selection of institutions, humanities centers, and historical societies that make digitized photographs and information about things associated to the Underground Railroad available to the general public. For information on this period of American history in your region of the country, check with your local libraries, museums, and other comparable institutions.
Delaware Florida Illinois Massachusetts New York is the capital of the United States. OhioPennsylvania Encyclopedias supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and State Humanities Councils
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Teacher’s Guide: 9780345804327
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR TEACHERS Instructions for Teachers The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes. Cora, a young African American lady who goes to freedom from the antebellum South via a magnificently conceived physical—rather than metaphorical—railroad, is introduced in The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. The locations and people Cora experiences throughout the novel, which is told in episodes, furnish her and the reader with important discoveries about the consequences of captivity.
The reader is reminded of the importance of hope, of resistance, and of freedom via Cora, making The Underground Railroadan essential supplement to any classroom curriculum.
An understanding of the slave trade, slavery, and how it operated in the United States is necessary in order to make sense of the number of Africans who were enslaved and the historical legacy of enslavement that has lasted through Reconstruction, the civil rights movement, and up to the present day in the United States.
- Most importantly, including The Underground Railroadallows readers to bear witness to a counter-narrative of slavery that is not generally covered in the literature on slavery.
- Because of the Underground Railroad, we are reminded that her tale may be used as a springboard for bigger talks about racism, gender, and a slew of other critical issues.
- When used at the collegiate level, the book is suited for writing and literary classes, race and gender studies, and first-year/common reading programs, among other things.
- The prompts are organized according to the standard that they most directly support.
- For a comprehensive listing of the Standards, please see the following link: warnings: There are multiple instances of violence throughout the text (sexual and physical).
- Although teachers should not avoid exposing children to these events, guiding them through them via conversation and critical analysis will help them gain a better understanding of the consequences of enslavement as it has been experienced by so many people throughout history.
- Activity in the Classroom Make a list of all the ways in which Cora fights against the dehumanization that comes with servitude.
Then hold a Socratic seminar to determine in what ways she is a “insurrection of one” (172) and why her resistance is such a threat to the system of white supremacy.Key Ideas and Specifics : CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.3 Examine the consequences of the author’s decisions about how to develop and connect the many aspects of a tale or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
- Even while whites continue to orchestrate festivals among the slave population in South Carolina, free people are free to congregate and spend time with one another whenever they choose.
- And what do these get-togethers have to say about community, kinship, and happiness?
- What aspects of South Carolina’s enslavement are similar to those of slavery?
- What characteristics distinguish South Carolina from Randall?
- Her reading materials include a Bible and almanacs, which “Cora admired.
- What role does the act of reading, and hence literacy, play in Cora’s ability to be free?
Consider, as well, how Ethel and Ridgeway use the Bible and religion to justify slavery: “If God had not intended for Africans to be enslaved, they would not be in chains” (195); and Cora’s observation: “Slavery is a sin when whites are subjected to the yoke, but not when Africans are subjected to the yoke” (195).
- This is how Ridgeway describes his position: “I’m an idea of order.” Likewise, the slave who vanishes is only a fictitious concept.
- If we allow it to happen, we are acknowledging the fault in the imperative.
- Is there a “defect in the imperative,” and why is it critical for Ridgeway and the larger institution of enslavement that is reliant on Black people that this flaw be addressed and eliminated?
- Mingo and Lander are similar in many ways.
- What are the similarities and differences between these two guys and Booker T.
- Du Bois?
Examine the relevance of how each person who worked on the railroad—from station agents to conductors—was influenced by their jobs and the railroad itself.
Which concepts such as resistance, agency, and responsibility do these individuals hold dear to their hearts?
The ability to read and to be literate provided one with a tremendous instrument for comprehending the world and for liberating others from oppression.
Consider the significance of the Valentine library, which boasts “the largest collection of negroliterature this side of Chicago,” among other things (273).
What role does Cora’s experience play in articulating the relationship between freedom and literacy?
Cora’s grandmother, Ajarry, is our first introduction to her.
What role does Ajarry play in setting a good example for Mabel, and in especially for Cora, is unclear.
A comparison has been made between the episodic structure of The Underground Railroad and that of Jonathan Swift’sGulliver’s Travels by Colson Whitehead.
A station agent tells Cora, “If you want to see what this country is all about, I always say you have to ride the rails,” as he tells her he wants her to ride the trains.
What role does Lumbly’s appraisal play in framing Cora’s next phase of her trip once she leaves Georgia?
Cora travels the majority of the way by herself.
Years ago, she had taken a wrong turn and was no longer able to find her way back to the folks she had left behind” (145).
Also, how do her travels influence her perspective on the ever-present threat of sexual assault against Black women, as well as the general lack of protection for enslaved women?
Examine the Friday Festivals and the night riders to see how they compare.
What are the ways in which these occurrences express worries of black rebellion?
Instead, he and his family were sold and split apart by the government.
Gulliver’s Travels is the title of the book.
The notion of literacy for freedom is sustained by Caesar’s hunger for knowledge in what way is unclear.
Who was the one who started it?
The question is, how could this be both a “community laboring for something lovely and rare” and a threat to others (such as the people in the neighboring town, slave catchers, and so on)?
Is there a clear message about risk and return in this?
Why is Sam the only one that returns to Cora out of all of the agents she has encountered?
Look at page 285 and see how Lander responds to Mingo.
What is the role of illusion throughout the narrative, and why is this particular moment so important for the acts that follow?
“You have a responsibility to pass on something beneficial to your children” (293).
What is their legacy in Cora, and how has it been realized?
Examine the relevance of turning the Underground Train into a real-world railroad system.
Create stations for students to study and debate each advertising based on a framing text (for example, “New Databases Offer Insight into the Lives of Escaped Slaves” from the New York Times).
What are some of the similarities and differences between the actual announcements and Cora’s version of them?
Knowledge and ideas are integrated in this process.
“That story, like so many that we tell about our nation’s past, has a tricky relationship to the truth: not quite wrong, but simplified; not quite a myth, but mythologized,” writes Kathryn Schultz in her article “The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad” in the New Yorker.
For what reason is it important to emphasize African Americans’ role in the abolitionist movement?
According to the Slave Memorial Act of 2003, “the District of Columbia shall be the site of a memorial to slavery to: (1) acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery throughout the United States and its thirteen American colonies; and (2) honor the nameless and forgotten men, women, and children who have gone unrecognized for their undeniable and weighty contribution to the development of the United States.
” There are no national monuments dedicated to the enslavement of Africans in the United States at this time.
What is the most appropriate way to commemorate and remember the enslavement of African people?
Draw on examples from the text to support your thinking as you create an artistic representation that places Cora within that lineage, extending the timeline all the way to the present day.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.11-12.7 Research projects that are both short and long in duration are carried out to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; when necessary, inquiries are narrowed or broadened; and multiple sources on the subject are synthesized to demonstrate understanding of the subject under investigation.
Select one of the episodes and use it as a point of start for performing a critical analysis and presenting research on one of the following subjects and how it ties to understanding themes in the novel.
forced sterilization, settler colonialism, lynching, African Americans and abolitionism, African American slave rebellions, sexual violence against African American women, reparations, literacy practices during and after enslavement, the role of white women in slavery, maroons and maronage, racial health disparities, and reparations.
(Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic, November 2005.
Social Theory, Sociology, “Settler Colonialism: An Introduction from the Perspective of Global Social Theory.” (E.
The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City.
NPR’s “Fresh Air” program.
Kathryn, “The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad” is a book about the Underground Railroad.
Works of Spectacular Interest Podcast with a historically black cast.
Ashley Bryan is a writer of children’s books.
Ava DuVernay’s Thirteenth (film) Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Alex Haley (film), Joel C.
Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a classic.
Promoting High Achievement Among African American Students, Young, Gifted, and Black (Young, Gifted, and Black), Theresa Perry is a woman who works in the fashion industry.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is located in Washington, DC.
Gregory Christie is a writer and poet from the United Kingdom.
Heather’s book, Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery, is a must-read for anybody interested in African American history.
Author of Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom, Heather A.
Monroe Work is the webpage for the Lynching Project.
Previously, she served as president of the New England Association of Teachers of English and as the National Council of Teachers of English’s Secondary Representative at-Large for the secondary division.
A Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Champaign, Dr. Parker is an expert in the field of education. WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUThtml /