Still was the director of a complex network of abolitionists, sympathizers and safe houses that stretched from Philadelphia to what is now Southern Ontario. In his fourteen years in the service of the Underground Railroad, he helped nearly eight hundred former slaves to escape.
Why is William still important today?
William Still is best known for his self-published book The Underground Railroad (1872) where he documented the stories of formerly enslaved Africans who gained their freedom by escaping bondage. As an abolitionist movement leader, William Still assisted hundreds of enslaved Africans to escape from slavery.
Is the Underground Railroad still used?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
How did William still change history?
In 1871 Still became the first anti-slavery activist to document the experiences of fugitive slaves in his book The Underground Railroad, a work which explained the story often in the words of the participants in the effort to escape slavery.
What were the roles in the Underground Railroad?
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. They did this under the cover of darkness with slave catchers hot on their heels.
What was William Still job?
William Still (October 7, 1821 – July 14, 1902) was an African-American abolitionist based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, businessman, writer, historian and civil rights activist.
What did William still believe?
On November 25, 1857, William Still recorded a story that told of the horrors of slavery in the South. Still’s religious faith led him to believe that blacks could win the respect of whites in society. He felt that they could if they had the chance to work and earn money on their own.
What role did Harriet Tubman play in the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. She led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom in the North along the route of the Underground Railroad.
Did the Underground Railroad use trains?
Nope! Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a railroad in the way Amtrak or commuter rail is. It wasn’t even a real railroad. It was a metaphoric one, where “conductors,” that is basically escaped slaves and intrepid abolitionists, would lead runaway slaves from one “station,” or save house to the next.
How did the Underground Railroad affect the Civil War?
The Underground Railroad physically resisted the repressive laws that held slaves in bondage. By provoking fear and anger in the South, and prompting the enactment of harsh legislation that eroded the rights of white Americans, the Underground Railroad was a direct contributing cause of the Civil War.
What did William Wilberforce do?
William Wilberforce, (born August 24, 1759, Hull, Yorkshire, England—died July 29, 1833, London), British politician and philanthropist who from 1787 was prominent in the struggle to abolish the slave trade and then to abolish slavery itself in British overseas possessions. He studied at St.
When did William still join the Underground Railroad?
In 1844, at the age of 23, Still relocated to Philadelphia, where he worked first as a janitor and then as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. Soon he became an active member of the organization, and by 1850 he served as the chairman of the committee established to help freedom seekers.
How old is William Still?
Approximately 100,000 American slaves escaped to freedom.
What was the purpose of the Underground Railroad quizlet?
The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early-to-mid 19th century, and used by African-American slaves to escape into free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.
What happened after the Underground Railroad?
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. Thousands of slaves settled in newly formed communities in Southern Ontario. Suddenly their job became more difficult and riskier.
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.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman 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.
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.
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.
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.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Abolitionist He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was during this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, an organization dedicated to aiding fleeing slaves in their journey to Canada. With the abolitionist movement, Brown would play a variety of roles, most notably leading an assault on Harper’s Ferry to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people under threat of death. Eventually, Brown’s forces were defeated, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two of them were jailed for aiding an escaped enslaved woman and her child escape.
- When Charles Torrey assisted an enslaved family fleeing through Virginia, he was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland.
- was his base of operations; earlier, he had served as an abolitionist newspaper editor in Albany, New York.
- In addition to being fined and imprisoned for a year, Walker had the letters “SS” for Slave Stealer tattooed on his right hand.
As a slave trader, Fairfield’s strategy was to travel across the southern states. Twice he managed to escape from prison. Tennessee’s arebellion claimed his life in 1860, and he was buried there.
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.
William Still’s National Significance · William Still: An African-American Abolitionist
Who is William Still, and what is his background? During the antebellum period in American history, William Still, a free-born Black man, rose to prominence as a leader of the abolitionist movement and as a writer. He was also one of the most successful Black businessmen in the history of the city of Philadelphia, and he was born in the city of Philadelphia. He was the youngest of eighteen children born to Levin and Charity Still on October 7, 1821, in Burlington County, New Jersey, and was the youngest of their eighteen children.
- His father purchased his freedom, and his mother was able to flee slavery in Maryland with the help of a relative.
- The virtues of family and effort that his parents instilled in him, together with pride and self-determination, have served him well throughout his life.
- After completing his apprenticeship that year, he was employed to work as a clerk at The Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery.
- The enactment of the Escaped Slave Act of 1850 resulted in Still’s appointment as head of the society’s resurrected Vigilance Committee, which assisted and supported fugitive Africans.
- He had no formal education at the time, but he read all he could get his hands on and studied grammar.
- He was given the authority to chronicle African resistance to slavery, as well as to write letters to his family and friends and handle commercial affairs.
- Still submitted a letter to the newspaper in 1859, expressing his displeasure with the racial prejudice that African Americans were subjected to aboard Philadelphia streetcars.
In his self-published book The Underground Railroad (1872), William Still chronicled the tales of Africans who had been slaves but had earned their freedom via the use of the Underground Railroad.
He engaged literary agents to help him market the book.
He died in 1876.
In 1874, he authored An Address on Voting and Laboring, in which he defended his support for the reform candidate for mayor of Philadelphia, as opposed to the Republican candidate for mayor of the city.
After a forty-year quest, he was able to track down his brother, Peter Still, and assist him in his escape to freedom.
Still, he shown great courage in aiding escaped Africans, even at the danger of his own life.
He was an outspoken supporter of universal suffrage.
As a result of his fame, he was assigned to the Philadelphia Board of Trade in 1861 and, in 1864, to the position of peddler for the food of black troops at Camp William Penn in Pennsylvania.
He also served as a member of the Freedmen’s Aid Commission and was instrumental in the establishment of one of the first YMCAs for black youth.
Justification for the importance of William Still’s collection on a national scale The William Still Papers, which span the years 1865 to 1899, are housed at the Charles L.
It is estimated that Still’s documents contain 140 letters referring to family concerns, as well as 14 images.
As a vital contributor to the success of the Underground Railroad activities in Philadelphia, William Still was an integral member of the city’s free Black population, which played an important role in the Underground Railroad.
Runaways were able to get to safety in the North because to his efforts with the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery’s Vigilance Committee.
His work The Underground Railroad is well-known around the world.
Since the passage of H.R.
Blockson Afro-American Collection to investigate William Still’s papers, which are housed in the Charles L.
This act permitted the establishment of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program by the United States National Park Service, which was tasked with the identification of Underground Railroad locations and the popularization of the Underground Railroad movement.
The personal communication of William Still and his family members offers scholars with an insight into the personal lives of William Still and his relatives. For further information about William Still, please visit the following:
- The Life and Times of William Still
- William Still’s Contemporaries
- The Life and Times of William Still Links to connected websites, including links to William Still’s books
- Links to other relevant websites
- Searching the Collections will allow you to see William Still’s family pictures, letters, and other primary source items relevant to his life.
How Harriet Tubman and William Still Helped the Underground Railroad
In this section, you will find information on William Still’s life and times, as well as information about his contemporaries. There are links to other connected websites, as well as links to William Still’s books. The Searching the Collections feature allows you to see William Still’s family portraits, letters, and other original source documents.
Harriet Tubman escaped slavery and guided others to freedom
Tubman, who was born into slavery in Maryland under the name Araminta Harriet Ross, was able to escape to freedom via the use of the Underground Railroad. Throughout her childhood, she was subjected to constant physical assault and torture as a result of her enslavement. In one of the most serious instances, she was struck in the head with an object weighing two pounds, resulting in her suffering from seizures and narcoleptic episodes for the rest of her life. John Tubman was a free black man when she married him in 1844, but nothing is known about their connection other than the fact that she adopted his last name.
- Even though she began the voyage with her brothers, she eventually completed the 90-mile journey on her own in 1849.
- As a result, she crossed the border again in 1850, this time to accompany her niece’s family to Pennsylvania.
- Instead, she was in charge of a gang of fugitive bond agents.
- Her parents and siblings were among those she was able to save.
- Tubman, on the other hand, found a way around the law and directed her Underground Railroad to Canada, where slavery was illegal (there is evidence that one of her destinations on an 1851 voyage was at the house of abolitionist Frederick Douglass).
- “”I was a conductor on the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say things that other conductors are unable to express,” she stated with a sense of accomplishment.
“I never had a problem with my train going off the tracks or losing a passenger.” Continue reading Harriet Tubman: A Timeline of Her Life, Underground Railroad Service, and Activism for more information.
William Still helped more than 800 enslaved people escape
Meanwhile, William Still was born in Burlington County, New Jersey, a free state, into a life of liberty and opportunity. The purchase of his freedom by his father, Levi Steel, occurred while his mother, Sidney, was on the run from slavery. In his early years, he came to the aid of a friend who was being pursued by enslaved catchers. He was still a child at the time. The Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery hired him in 1844 to work as a janitor and clerk at their Philadelphia offices.
Around this time, he began assisting fleeing enslaved persons by providing them with temporary lodging in the years leading up to the Civil War.
It is claimed that he escorted 800 enslaved persons to freedom over the course of his 14-year career on the route, all while maintaining meticulous records of their journeys.
More about Harriet Tubman’s life of service after the Underground Railroad can be found at this link.
Tubman made regular stops at Still’s station
Tubman was a frequent visitor at Still’s station, since she made a regular stop in Philadelphia on her way to New York. He is also said to have contributed monetarily to several of Tubman’s journeys. Her visits clearly left an effect on him, as evidenced by the inclusion of a section about her in his book, which followed a letter from Thomas Garrett about her ushering in arriving visitors. As Stillwright put it in his book, “Harriet Tubman had become their “Moses,” but not in the same way that Andrew Johnson had been their “Moses of the brown people.” “She had obediently gone down into Egypt and, through her own heroics, had delivered these six bondmen to safety.
But in terms of courage, shrewdness, and selfless efforts to rescue her fellow-men, she was without peer.
“While great anxieties were entertained for her safety, she appeared to be completely free of personal dread,” he went on to say.
will portray William Still, in the upcoming film Harriet. The film will explore the life and spirit of Tubman, and the role that Still had in guiding so many people on the road to freedom.
Biography of William Still, Father of the Underground Railroad
Tubman, who made a regular stop at Still’s station in Philadelphia, was one of his frequent guests. His financial assistance with several of Tubman’s journeys was also revealed. He must have been impressed by her visits since he featured her in a section in his book, which was inspired by a letter from Thomas Garrett about her welcoming newcomers. As Stillwright put it in his book, “Harriet Tubman had become their “Moses,” but not in the same way that Andrew Johnson had been the “Moses of the brown people.” In the end, she had gone down to Egypt on her word, and she had delivered these six bondmen through her own acts of bravery.
- But in terms of courage, shrewdness, and selfless efforts to liberate her fellow-men, she was without peer.
- He went on to describe her accomplishments as “amazing,” pointing out that she had made several forays into the danger zone in the process of getting there.
- It seems that the thought of being abducted by enslaved-hunters or enslaved-holders never crossed her thoughts.” According to all appearances, she was impenetrable.” Cynthia Erivo will portray Harriet Tubman, and Leslie Odom Jr.
- The film will explore the life and spirit of Tubman, and the role that Still had in guiding so many people down the path to freedom.
Fast Facts: William Still
- Abolitionist, civil rights crusader, and “Father of the Underground Railroad,” Frederick Douglass is well-known. Born on October 7, 1821, in the vicinity of Medford, New Jersey Levin and Charity (Sidney) Steel are the Steels’ parents. The date of his death was July 14, 1902 in Philadelphia. Schooling: Only a limited amount of formal education
- Self-taught “The Underground Rail Road” is a work that has been published. Caroline Matilda Still, William Wilberforce Still, Robert George Still, and Frances Ellen Still are the children of William Wilberforce Still and Letitia George, who married in 1847.
Still was born a free Black man near the town of Medford in Burlington County, New Jersey, the youngest of 18 children born to Levin and Sidney Steel. Still was raised as a free Black man in the community of Medford. While Still submitted the date of November 1819 in the 1900 census, he claimed to have been born on October 7,1821, according to his actual birth certificate. The son of persons who had been enslaved laborers on a potato and maize farm on the eastern shore of Maryland owned by Saunders Griffin, Still was born into slavery.
The first time she escaped, she carried her four oldest children with her as well as her.
When Sidney Steel fled for the second time, she carried two girls with her, but her boys were sold to enslavers in Mississippi.
Throughout his boyhood, William Still worked on his family’s farm and also sought employment as a woodcutter to supplement his family’s income.
He learned to read and write despite having gotten very little formal schooling. He achieved this by reading a lot and taught himself how to do so. Still’s writing abilities would help him rise to prominence as an abolitionist and champion for individuals who had previously been slaves.
Marriage and Family
With the age of 23, Still moved to Philadelphia and began working as a janitor for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, which later promoted him to the position of clerk in 1845. His involvement with the movement quickly progressed and by 1850 he was serving as the head of the committee set up to assist freedom seekers in their quest for independence. Still met and later married Letitia George while he was living in Philadelphia. Their marriage in 1847 resulted in the birth of four children: Caroline Matilda Still, who became one of the first African American women doctors in the United States; William Wilberforce Still, who became a prominent African American lawyer in Philadelphia; Robert George Still, who became a journalist and print shop owner; and Frances Ellen Still, who became an educator after the poet Frances Watkins Harper.
The Underground Railroad
Between 1844 and 1865, Still was instrumental in the emancipation of at least 60 enslaved Black people from their bonds. However, she continued to interview a large number of enslaved Black people who were seeking freedom – men, women, and families – and documented their origins, the difficulties they encountered and the assistance they received, their final destination, as well as the pseudonyms they used to relocate. In one of his interviews, Still discovered that he was interviewing his elder brother Peter, who had been sold to another enslaver after their mother managed to escape from their captors.
In 1850, after the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act, Still was chosen head of the Vigilance Committee, which was formed to discover a means to get around the law.
African American Civic Leader
Because his involvement with the Underground Railroad had to be a closely guarded secret, Still maintained a relatively low public profile until enslaved people were liberated. Still, he was a pretty famous leader in the Black community at the time of his death. In 1855, he journeyed to Canada to investigate enclaves of previously enslaved individuals who had escaped from the United States. Still published a letter in a local newspaper in 1859, which marked the beginning of his campaign to desegregate Philadelphia’s public transit system.
A brief narrative of the struggle for the rights of the colored people of Philadelphia in the City Railway Cars” was written by Still in 1867 as a result of this experience.
Despite eight years of lobbying, the Pennsylvania legislature enacted legislation that prohibited segregation on public transit.
Aside from that, Still was an organizer of a YMCA for Black children, a participant in the Freedmen’s Aid Commission, and a founding member of the Berean Presbyterian Church, among other things. In addition, he assisted in the establishment of a Mission School in North Philadelphia.
Still published his collected interviews in a book named “The Underground Railroad” in 1872, seven years after the abolition of slavery. Still was the first person to do so. Over 1,000 interviews were conducted for the book, which totaled 800 pages. The stories are heroic and heartbreaking, and they highlight how individuals suffered greatly and gave much to free themselves from servitude in many parts of the world. Most notably, the book emphasized the fact that African Americans were principally responsible for organizing and maintaining the abolitionist movement in Philadelphia during its early years.
Still expressed his appreciation for his book by saying, “We need need works on many issues from the pens of African men to represent the race intellectually.” After its publication, “The Underground Rail Road” became a vital addition to the collection of literature written by African Americans detailing their past as abolitionists and previously enslaved people, which was already extensive.
After the book was published, Still displayed it at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in order to remind tourists of the heritage of enslavement in the United States of America.
In 1883, he published the third and extended version, which featured an autobiographical sketch as well as new material.
In the course of his activism as an abolitionist and civil rights campaigner, Still accumulated a substantial amount of personal riches. When he was a young guy, he began investing in real estate in Philadelphia. Later on, he managed a coal company and opened a store where he sold new and used stoves to customers. In addition, he got royalties from the selling of his book. Still developed a network of efficient, enterprising, college-educated sales agents to help him advertise his book, which he defined as a compilation of “quiet instances of what fortitude may achieve when freedom is the aim.” Still’s book was published in 1989.
Still died in 1902 as a result of cardiac problems. As described in Still’s obituary in The New York Times, he was “one of the most well-educated members of his race, and he was widely revered as ‘the Founder of the Underground Railroad.'”
- After a period of heart illness, Still died in 1902. The New York Times said in Still’s obituary that he was “one of the best-educated members of his race, who was recognized across the country as the ‘Father of the Underground Railroad.'”
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.
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With the exception of promotional graphics, which normally link to another page that carries the media credit, all audio, artwork, photos, and videos are attributed beneath the media asset. In the case of media, the Rights Holder is the individual or group who gets credited.
Gina Borgia is a member of the National Geographic Society. Jeanna Sullivan is a member of the National Geographic Society.
Gina Borgia of the National Geographic Society is a renowned naturalist and photographer. According to Jeanna Sullivan of the National Geographic Society, ”
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Introduction-Aboard the Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad refers to the effort -sometimes spontaneous, sometimes highly organized – to assist persons held in bondage in North America to escape from slavery.While most runaways began their journey unaided and many completed their self-emancipation without assistance, each decade in which slavery was legal in the United States saw an increase in the public perception of an underground network and in the number of persons willing to give aid to the runaway. Although divided, the abolitionist movement was successful in expanding the informal network known as the underground railroad and in publicizing it.The term “underground railroad” had no meaning to the generations before the first rails and engines of the 1820s, but the retrospective use of the term in is made so as to include incidents which have all the characteristics of underground railroad activity, but which occurred earlier.These activities foreshadowed and helped to shape the underground railroad.The origin of the term “underground railroad” cannot be precisely determined.What is known is that both those who aided escapees from slavery and those who were outraged by loss of slave property began to refer to runaways as part of an “underground railroad” by 1840.The “underground railroad” described an activity that was locally organized, but with no real center.It existed rather openly in the North and just beneath the surface of daily life in the upper South and certain Southern cities.The underground railroad, where it existed, offered local service to runaway slaves, assisting them from one point to another.Farther along, others would take the passenger into their transportation system until the final destination had been reached. The rapidity with which the term became commonly used did not mean that incidents of resistance to slavery increased significantly around 1830 or that more attempts were made to escape from bondage. It did mean that more white northerners were prepared to aid runaways and to give some assistance to the northern blacks who had always made it their business to help escapees from slavery. The primary importance of the underground railroad was that it gave ampleevidence of African American capabilities and gave expression to AfricanAmerican philosophy. Perhaps the most important factor or aspect tokeep in mind concerning the underground railroad is that its importanceis not measured by the number of attempted or successful escapes fromAmerican slavery, but by the manner in which it consistently exposedthe grim realities of slavery and -more important- refuted the claimthat African Americans could not act or organize on their own. The secondaryimportance of the underground railroad was that it provided an opportunityfor sympathetic white Americans to play a role in resisting slavery.It also brought together, however uneasily at times, men and women ofboth races to begin to set aside assumptions about the other race andto work together on issues of mutual concern. At the most dramatic level,the underground railroad provided stories of guided escapes from theSouth, rescues of arrested fugitives in the North, complex communicationsystems, and individual acts of bravery and suffering. While most ofthe accounts of secret passageways, sliding wall panels, and hiddenrooms will not be verified by historic evidence, there were indeed sufficientdramas to be interpreted and verified.Visitors may be interested inHistoricHotels of America, a program of the National Trust for HistoricPreservation, located near the places featured in this itinerary.List of Sites|HomeComments or Questions Last Modified:EST|
Underground Railroad: The William Still Story
“It was my good fortune to extend a helping hand to a tired traveler who was on his way back from the country of bondage,” says the author. — William Still, in a letter to a friend Underground Railroad: The William Still Story brings to life the compelling story of one of the most important, yet largely unheralded, heroes of the Underground Railroad in the new documentary Underground Railroad: The William Still Story, which will air on Arizona Public Broadcasting on Monday, February 6, 2012 at 9 p.m.
- Also explored is Canada’s pivotal involvement in the complicated humanitarian endeavor that assisted in the liberation of tens of thousands of men, women, and children from servitude in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- He took delivery of delivered boxes holding human “cargo,” and he assisted in smuggling them into “Freedom’s Land” once they were discovered.
- The Underground Railroad: The William Still Storyre-creates one of North America’s most famous sagas via the use of strong diaries, evocative reenactments, historical viewpoints, and emotive narratives from the time period in question.
- “William Still is a great American hero who, until now, has not received the recognition he so richly deserves,” stated Donald K.
“The importance of Canada’s part in the success of Still’s gallant endeavors for his brother man’s freedom is revealed by this’starring role,’ which brings Still’s bravery and legacy to light.” Following the enactment of the Fleeing Slave Act, bounty hunters were able to legally capture former slaves residing in the so-called free northern states; yet, because of the protection afforded by the British, fugitive slaves were able to seek refuge in Canada.
Despite the fact that Still’s home base of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was at the forefront of the fight against slavery, he believed that Canada was the final destination for the fleeing slaves he was assisting in their liberation.
“I feel that history resonates best when it is based on a great story,” he added.
William Still was dubbed “the father of the Underground Railroad” by the New York Times, although he considered himself to be little more than another soldier in the struggle.
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
However, many of the intriguing and lesser known elements of the Underground Railroad are not included in many textbooks, despite the fact that it is an essential part of our nation’s history. It is intended that this booklet will serve as a window into the past by presenting a number of original documents pertaining to the Underground Railroad. Broadsides, prize posters, newspaper clippings, historical records, sheet music, pictures, and memoirs connected to the Underground Railroad are among the primary sources included in this collection.
- The Underground Railroad was a covert structure established to assist fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in the United States.
- As a result, secret codes were developed to aid in the protection of themselves and their purpose.
- Runaway slaves were referred to as cargo, and the free persons who assisted them on their journey to freedom were referred to as conductors.
- These stations would be identified by a lantern that was lighted and hung outside.
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.
Fugitive slaves who wanted to escape to freedom had a long and risky trip ahead of them on the Underground Railroad. It was necessary for runaway slaves to travel great distances in a short period of time, sometimes on foot. They did this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were following after them in the streets. The pursuit of fleeing slaves was not limited to slave owners. For the purpose of enticing people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters promising cash to anybody who assisted in the capture of their property.
- Numerous apprehended fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were captured.
- In order to live lengthy amounts of time in the wilderness, people would have to battle off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them, navigate dangerous terrain, and contend with extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the apprehension of fugitive slaves since they were viewed as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the terms of the legislation.
- Only after crossing into Canadian territory would they find safety and liberty.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south from the United States to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- The man was apprehended at his northern residence, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this law.
- Then, following the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the South, from which he had believed himself to have fled.
Both the American Memory and America’s Library divisions of the Libray of Congress are located in Washington, DC.
Frederick Douglass was yet another fugitive slave who managed to flee from his master’s grasp.
He pretended to be a sailor, but it was not enough to fool the authorities into believing he was one.
Fortunately, the train conductor did not pay careful attention to Douglass’ documents, and he was able to board the train and travel to his final destination of liberty.
Although some were successful in escaping slavery, many of those who did were inspired to share their experiences with those who were still enslaved and to assist other slaves who were not yet free.
Another escaping slave, Henry “Box” Brown, managed to get away in a different fashion.
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 wide, and weighed two pounds. His singing was heard as soon as he was freed from the box.
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.