Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them.
How many states were involved in the Underground Railroad?
The network of routes extended in all directions throughout 14 Northern states and “the promised land” of Canada, which was beyond the reach of fugitive-slave hunters.
What were the destinations of the Underground Railroad?
In the decades leading up to the American Civil War, settlements along the Detroit and Niagara Rivers were important terminals of the Underground Railroad. By 1861, some 30,000 freedom seekers resided in what is now Ontario, having escaped slave states like Kentucky and Virginia.
What cities played a major role in the Underground Railroad?
The cities of Buffalo, Rochester and their surrounding areas helped to play a leading role in the Underground Railroad movement.
Did the Underground Railroad go through upstate New York?
Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad. As Foner details in his new book, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, New York was a crucial way station from the Upper South through Pennsylvania and onward to upstate New York, New England and Canada.
Did the Underground Railroad go through North Carolina?
In North Carolina, many former slaves became abolitionists through the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad in North Carolina used locations such as the Great Dismal Swamp, Elizabeth City, Hatteras Island, Guilford College Woods and Roanoke Island as stops on the path to freedom.
Was there a Underground Railroad in Georgia?
MACON, Ga. But the Underground Railroad had no physical location. Instead, it was a network of abolitionists who found ways to smuggle slaves into freedom.
How many northern states were pathways 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. The largest group settled in Upper Canada (Ontario), called Canada West from 1841. Numerous Black Canadian communities developed in Southern Ontario.
Was Ohio part of the Underground Railroad?
Although there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, even in the South, Ohio had the most active network of any other state with around 3000 miles of routes used by escaping runaways. First Ohio was bordered by 2 slave states: Virginia and Kentucky.
Was the Underground Railroad in Illinois?
After the Civil War, slaves heading north toward freedom began trickling into Illinois. This meant slaves had to travel through Illinois discretely, usually under the cover of darkness. They would go from safe house to safe house—a path to freedom that came to be known as the Underground Railroad.
Did the Underground Railroad go through West Virginia?
Near this site in 1836, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad built its original ticket office for Harpers Ferry, from which passengers boarded and departed the train traveling east to Baltimore, Maryland and west to what is now Wheeling, West Virginia.
Is the Underground Railroad in Virginia?
From Virginia to Canada. Several factors made Virginia a place where the Underground Railroad flourished. Even with the domestic slave trade forcing thousands of men, women, and children into the Deep South, it had the largest enslaved population of any state and a large free black population.
Where were stations in Indiana that were part of the Underground Railroad?
Indiana’s Underground Railroad All three paths eventually led to Michigan, then to Canada. (Canada abolished slavery in 1833.) The routes in Indiana went from Posey to South Bend; from Corydon to Porter; and from Madison to DeKalb County, with many stops in between.
Which city built the first underground railroad?
The London Underground, which opened in 1863, was the world’s first underground railway system. More than 30,000 passengers tried out the Tube on the opening day and it was hailed by the Times as “the great engineering triumph of the day”. Pictured – William Gladstone on an inspection of the first underground line.
Was New York the Underground Railroad?
Abolitionists employed a vast network of churches, safe houses, and community sites in New York, as well as the 445-mile border with Canada, to help emancipate enslaved people.
Why did slaves go to New York?
During the American Revolutionary War, the British troops occupied New York City in 1776. The Philipsburg Proclamation promised freedom to slaves who left rebel masters, and thousands moved to the city for refuge with the British. By 1780, 10,000 black people lived in New York.
The Underground Railroad Route
Students will learn how to distinguish between slave states and free states during the time of the Underground Railroad, as well as the difficulties of escaping and choosing the path they would have chosen. Geography, Human Geography, and Physical Geography are the subjects covered. Students should be able to distinguish between slave and free states throughout the time of the Underground Railroad. Each pupil should be given a copy of the map titled “Routes to Freedom.” Inform pupils that the Underground Railroad aided enslaved individuals as they traveled from the South to the North during the American Civil War.
Afterwards, instruct pupils to locate each slave state on the map as you pronounce its name:
- sMontana This state does not display on the map since it is not included in the list. Make use of a wall map of the United States to instruct children on where Montana is located.) North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia are among the states represented.
Explain to pupils that enslaved individuals did not have access to maps, compasses, or GPS systems throughout their time in slavery. The majority of enslaved individuals were never permitted to get an education, and as a result, they were unable to read or write. Consider the following question: How do you suppose enslaved people knew they were heading in the correct direction? Students should be informed that enslaved individuals resorted to guides on the Underground Railroad, as well as memory, visuals, and spoken communication to survive.
- Talk about the difficulties you’ve encountered on your path.
- Instruct pupils to examine the map and make note of any physical characteristics of the region that made the voyage challenging.
- In order to demonstrate proper shading techniques, students should go to Alabama, then northeast via Maine and into Canada to see how the Applachian Mountains are shaded.
- Ask:Can you think of anything else that made the travel difficult?
- In the winter, being cold and outdoors
- Not having enough food
- Being exhausted yet unable to relax
- Having to swim or traverse bodies of water
- Having to travel great distances
- Evading or avoiding people or animals
In the winter, being cold and outdoors; not having enough food; being exhausted but unable to relax; having to swim or traverse bodies of water; having to travel great distances; etc. the act of escaping from humans or animals
Students should discuss what they believe to be the most difficult obstacles to fleeing enslaved people, such as distance, weather, mountains, wildlife, bodies of water, or densely inhabited places, among other things. Inquire as to how their chosen method might have assisted enslaved individuals in avoiding the difficulties they were faced with.
Students will be able to:
- The student will be able to identify slave states and free states during the time period when the Underground Railroad was active
- Describe the difficulties encountered throughout the voyage
- Indicate the path they would have followed, and explain their reasons.
- Common Core Standard 1: How to interpret and share information via the use of maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technology, and spatial thinking
- Standard 17: How to use geography to understand and interpret the past.
What You’ll Need
- Standard 1: How to comprehend and share information by utilizing maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technology, and spatial thinking. The application of geography in the interpretation of the past is covered in Standard 17.
- Internet access is optional
- Technological setup includes one computer per classroom and a projector.
• Internet access is optional; • Technology setup includes one computer per classroom and a projector
Internet access is optional; technology setup includes one computer per classroom and a projector.
Christina Riska Simmons is a model and actress.
Jessica Wallace-Weaver is a certified educational consultant.
- Based on the National Geographic Xpeditions lesson “Finding Your Way: The Underground Railroad,” this activity was created. Permissions Granted to Users Users’ permissions are detailed in our Terms of Service, which you can see by clicking here. Alternatively, if you have any issues regarding how to reference something from our website in your project or classroom presentation, please speak with your instructor. They will be the most knowledgeable about the selected format. When you contact them, you will need to provide them with the page title, URL, and the date on which you visited the item.
Based on the National Geographic Xpeditions lesson “Finding Your Way: The Underground Railroad,” this activity was adapted. Permissions Granted to Individual Users Please see our Terms of Service for more details on user permissions. If you have any issues regarding how to properly reference something from our website in your project or classroom presentation, please speak with your instructor or a librarian. Most likely, they will be the ones who are most familiar with the recommended format The title of the page, the URL of the resource, as well as the date you visited it, will be necessary when you contact them.
Adapted from the National Geographic Xpeditions lesson “Finding Your Way: The Underground Railroad”; Permissions Granted to Individuals Please see our Terms of Service for more information on user permissions. Contact your teacher if you have any queries about how to reference something from our website in your project or classroom presentation. They will be the ones who are most familiar with the recommended format. When you contact them, you will need to provide them with the page title, URL, and the date on which you visited the content;
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See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.
Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.
In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.
The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.
When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television? Return to the past for the really American responses. Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.
Places of the Underground Railroad (U.S. National Park Service)
A map of the United States depicting the many paths that freedom seekers might follow in order to attain freedom. NPS provided the image. When enslaved African Americans attempted to obtain their escape via the use of an underground railroad network of routes, safehouses, and resources distributed across the country, they were referred to as “fugitives from justice.” This attempt was frequently spontaneous, with enslaved persons setting off on their quest to liberation on their own initiative.
During the 1820s and 1830s, the United States experienced a surge in the number of people who sought independence from oppression.
In certain instances, the choice to aid a freedom seeking may have been a result of a spur of the moment decision.
Origins of the Underground Railroad
Enslaved people have long sought liberation, dating back to the earliest days of the institution of slavery. Colonial North America – which included Canada and the northern states of the United States – was heavily involved in the slave trade during the nineteenth century. Newly enslaved Africans frequently fled in groups with the intention of establishing new communities in isolated locations. Slavery was particularly widespread in the northern states, making escape extremely difficult. Before the mid-nineteenth century, Spanish Florida and Mexico were the most popular escape destinations for those fleeing bondage.
- The Clemens’ residence is owned by James and Sarah Clemens.
- Following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 by Congress, Canada became a shelter for many people who were hoping to gain their freedom.
- Those living in free Black communities in the North were devastated by this.
- However, as a result of these seizures and kidnappings, a large number of individuals were persuaded to provide assistance as part of the Underground Railroad.
- Formerly enslaved men and women also played an important part in assisting freedom seekers, such as the Clemens family, in their quest for freedom.
- In addition to establishing a school and a cemetery, they served as a station on the Underground Railroad from their residence.
Several freedom seekers made their way to Greenville as their last destination. Bethel AME Church is a congregation of African-Americans. Photo by Smallbones, used under a Creative Commons license.
The Role of Women in the Underground Railroad
Since the beginning of slavery, enslaved people have been striving for their liberation. In the slave trade, colonial North America — which included Canada and northern states in the United States – played a major role. In order to create new settlements in isolated places, newly enslaved Africans frequently formed groups and fled. Also prevalent in the northern states, slavery made emigrating more difficult. Spanish Florida and Mexico were popular escape destinations for many bondage evaders until the mid-1800s.
- The Clemens’ residence is owned by James and Sarah.
- This measure made it easy and profitable to pay slave catchers to track out and apprehend political dissidents and political prisoners.
- In many cases, slave hunters abducted African Americans who were in fact lawful citizens of the United States.
- Individuals, couples, and even families were among those who took part in the Underground Railroad network.
- The Greenville settlement in western Ohio was founded by James and Sophia Clemens.
- A handful of freedom seekers made their way to Greenville as a last destination.
- Smallbones’s photograph is in the public domain.
Legacy of the Underground Railroad
Locations related with the Underground Railroad may be found all throughout the United States, and a number of national preservation projects are devoted to recording these historical places of significance. In the case of the National Park Service’sNetwork to Freedomprogram, for example, the program includes locations that may be proven to have a link to the Underground Railroad. By working in conjunction with government agencies, people, and organizations to recognize, preserve, and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, the Network to Freedom hopes to bring attention to this important part of human history.
- The Barney L.
- The public domain is a term used to describe a piece of property that is owned by the public.
- Identification, evaluation, and protection of America’s historic and archeological resources are the goals of this National Park Service initiative, which brings together public and private efforts.
- This is true of places such as theBarney L.
- With the help of the Underground Railroad, Barney was able to escape from his bondage.
- Barney finally settled in Denver, where he made a name for himself as a successful businessman.
- Barney was also an outspoken fighter for African-American civil rights, and he played a crucial part in Colorado’s admittance to the Union as a free state.
- Ford Building contribute to the telling of the tale of the Underground Railroad and its participants – both free and enslaved – in the United States.
Members of the public can assist in the recognition and preservation of locations, structures, and landscapes linked with the Underground Railroad by nominating them to the Network to Freedom or to the National Register of Historic Places.
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, 1854-1865
Running away slaves from slave states to the North and Canada were assisted by white and African American abolitionists, who set up a network of hiding sites around the country where fugitives could conceal themselves during the day and move under cover of night. In spite of the fact that the majority of runaways preferred to travel on foot and trains were rarely used, the secret network was referred to as the “Underground Railroad” by all parties involved. The term first appeared in literature in 1852, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about a secret “underground” line in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
- Those working in the Underground Railroad utilized code terms to keep their identities hidden from others.
- While traveling on the Underground Railroad, both runaways and conductors had to endure terrible conditions, harsh weather, and acute starvation.
- Many were willing to put their lives on the line, especially after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act made it illegal to provide assistance to escaped slaves, even in free areas.
- At the time, an abolitionist came to the conclusion that “free colored people shared equal fate with the breathless and the slave.” Listen to a tape of filmmaker Gary Jenkins talking on the Underground Railroad in the West at the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Underground Railroad routes that extended into Kansas and branched out into northern states like as Iowa and Nebraska, as well as all the way into Canada, were often utilized by the fugitives.
When asked about his feelings on doing so much good for the oppressed while doing so much harm to the oppressors, one conductor from Wakarusa, Kansas, responded, “I feel pretty happy and thankfullthat I have been able to do so much good for the oppressed, so much harm to the oppressors.” It was not uncommon for well-known persons to be connected with the Underground Railroad, such as Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and then returned 19 times to the South to help emancipate over 300 slaves.
- Tubman was said to have carried a revolver in order to guarantee that she never lost track of a passenger.
- Individuals from Kansas also played significant roles, such as Enoch and Luther Platt, who managed railroad stations out of their house in Wabaunsee County, Kansas Territory, in the 1850s.
- It is possible for “shareholders” to make donations to such groups, which may be used to supply supplies or to construct additional lines.
- In addition to developing new routes, members of assistance organisations evaluated the routes to ensure that men, women, and children could travel in safety on them.
During an escape, engineers guided passengers and notified the remainder of the train to reroute if there was a threat to the train’s integrity. The Underground Railroad: A Deciphering Guide
- The Underground Railroad, also known as the Freedom or Gospel Train
- Cargo, passengers, or luggage: fugitives from justice
- The StationorDepot is a safe haven for fugitives from slavery. A person who escorted fugitive slaves between stations was known as a conductor, engineer, agent, or shepherd. The term “stationmaster” refers to someone who oversaw a station and assisted runaways along their path. shareholder or stockholder: an abolitionist who made financial donations to the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War
Conductors from Kansas may easily cross the border into Missouri in order to establish contact with suspected runaway passengers. During the war, slaves residing in Missouri, which was so near to the free state of Kansas, were especially enticed to utilize the Underground Railroad to cross the border into the free state of Kansas to escape. Despite the fact that he did not know exact ways into Kansas, one African-American man expressed his confidence in his ability to reach Lawrence, a town around 40 miles from the state line and home to “the Yankees,” which means “the Yankees are waiting for you.” Conductors frequently provided fugitives with clothing and food for their excursions, and even did it at their own expense on occasion.
- Due to the possibility of being questioned by pursuers, several conductors preferred not to know specific information about the fugitives they assisted.
- In the aftermath of their successful escapes to other free states, a small number of passengers returned to Kansas, including William Dominick Matthews, a first lieutenant in the Independent Battery of the United States Colored Light Artillery in Fort Leavenworth.
- Matthews maintained a boarding house in Leavenworth, Kansas, with the assistance of Daniel R.
- Aside from that, as could be expected, very little is known about the specific individuals and families that aided or were assisted by the Underground Railroad.
According to Ohio History Central This snapshot depicts the “Freedom Stairway,” which consists of one hundred stairs going from the Ohio River to the John Rankin House in Ripley, which served as a station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Presbyterian clergyman and educator John Rankin (1793-1886) spent most of his time working for the abolitionist anti-slavery struggle. The home features various secret rooms, some of which were used to hide freedom fighters. An illuminated sign was erected in front of the home to signal that it was safe for anyone seeking freedom to approach it.
- An underground railroad system of safe homes and hiding places that assisted freedom seekers on their journeys to freedom in Canada, Mexico, and other countries outside of the United States was known as the Underground Railroad (UR).
- Although it is unknown when the Underground Railroad had its start, members of the Society of Friends, often known as the Quakers, were actively supporting freedom seekers as early as the 1780s, according to historical records.
- As early as the late 1700s, slavery was outlawed in the vast majority of Northern states.
- African Americans were forced to flee the United States in order to genuinely achieve their freedom.
- Despite the fact that slavery was outlawed in Ohio, some individuals were still opposed to the abolition of the institution.
- Many of these individuals were adamantly opposed to the Underground Railroad.
- Other people attempted to restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners in the aim of receiving prizes for their efforts.
Over three thousand slaves were rescued from their captors and granted freedom in Canada thanks to the efforts of Levi Coffin, a Cincinnati man who lived in the late 1840s and early 1850s.
His house was perched on a three hundred-foot-high hill with a panoramic view of the Ohio River.
He gave the freedom seekers with sanctuary and kept them hidden until it was safe for them to proceed farther north in their quest for independence.
These individuals, as well as a large number of others, put their lives in danger to aid African Americans in their journey to freedom.
They typically chose to live in communities where there were other African Americans.
A total of eight communities along the Lake Erie shoreline served as embarkation locations for the freedom seekers’ journey to Canada, including Ashtabula, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Huron, Lorain, Conneaut, and Conneaut.
It is still unknown exactly how the Underground Railroad came to be known by that moniker.
In 1831, a freedom seeker called Tice Davids fled from his slave owners in Kentucky, where he had been held since birth.
Davids had arrived at the coast only a few minutes before him. Following the arrival of his boat, the holder was unable to locate Davids and concluded that he “must have gone off on a subterranean path.”
- “The Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad,” by Charles L. Blockson, et al. Hippocrene Books, New York, NY, 1994
- Levi Coffin, Hippocrene Books, New York, NY, 1994. Levi Coffin’s recollections of his time as the rumored President of the Underground Railroad. Arno Press, New York, NY, 1968
- Dee, Christine, ed., Ohio’s War: The Civil War in Documents, New York, NY, 1968. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007)
- Fess, Simeon D., ed. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007). Gara, Larry, and Lewis Publishing Company, 1937
- Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Company. The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad is a documentary film about the Underground Railroad. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1961
- Ann Hagedorn, ed., Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1961. Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad is a book about the heroes of the Underground Railroad. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
- Roseboom, Eugene H. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
- The period from 1850 to 1873 is known as the Civil War Era. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom (Columbus, OH: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1944)
- Siebert, Wibur H. “The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom.” RussellRussell, New York, 1898
- Siebert, Wilbur Henry, New York, 1898. Ohio was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Lesick, Lawrence Thomas
- Arthur W. McGraw, 1993
- McGraw, Arthur W. The Lane Rebels: Evangelicalism and Antislavery in Antebellum America is a book about the Lane family who were antislavery activists in the antebellum era. Roland M. Baumann’s book, The Scarecrow Press, was published in 1980 in Metuchen, NJ. The Rescue of the Oberlin-Wellington Train in 1858: A Reappraisal Oberlin, OH: Oberlin College Press, 2003
- Levi Coffin and William Still, editors. Fleeing for Freedom: Stories of the Underground Railroad is a collection of short stories about people fleeing for freedom. Ivan R. Dee Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, 2004.
The Secret History of the Underground Railroad
Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race was the title of a series published by De Bow’s Review, a leading Southern periodical, a decade before the Civil War. The series was deemed necessary by the editors because it had “direct and practical bearing” on 3 million people whose worth as property totaled approximately $2 billion. When it comes to African Americans’ supposed laziness (“deficiency of red blood in the pulmonary and arterial systems”), love of dancing (“profuse distribution of nervous matter to the stomach, liver, and genital organs”), and extreme aversion to being whipped (“skin.
- However, it was Cartwright’s discovery of a previously undiscovered medical illness, which he coined “Drapetomania, or the sickness that causes Negroes to flee,” that grabbed the most attention from readers.
- Despite the fact that only a few thousand individuals, at most, fled slavery each year—nearly all of them from states bordering the free North—their migration was seen by many Southern whites as a portent of a greater calamity.
- How long do you think it will take until the entire cloth begins to unravel?
- Rather, it was intentionally supported and helped by a well-organized network that was both large and diabolical in scope.
- The word “Underground Railroad” brings up pictures of trapdoors, flickering lamps, and moonlit routes through the woods in the minds of most people today, just as it did in the minds of most Americans in the 1840s and 1850s.
- At least until recently, scholars paid relatively little attention to the story, which is remarkable considering how prominent it is in the national consciousness.
- The Underground Railroad was widely believed to be a statewide conspiracy with “conductors,” “agents,” and “depots,” but was it really a fiction of popular imagination conjured up from a succession of isolated, unconnected escapes?
- Which historians you trust in will determine the solutions.
One historian (white) questioned surviving abolitionists (most of whom were also white) a decade after the Civil War and documented a “great and complicated network” of agents, 3,211 of whom he identified by name, as well as a “great and intricate network” of agents (nearly all of them white).
- “I escaped without the assistance.
- “I have freed myself in the manner of a man.” In many cases, the Underground Railroad was not concealed at all.
- The journal of a white New Yorker who assisted hundreds of runaway slaves in the 1850s was found by an undergraduate student in Foner’s department at Columbia University while working on her final thesis some years ago, and this discovery served as the inspiration for his current book.
- One of the book’s most surprising revelations is that, according to the book’s subtitle, the Underground Railroad was not always secret at all.
- The New York State Vigilance Committee, established in 1850, the year of the infamous Fugitive Slave Act, officially declared its objective to “welcome, with open arms, the panting fugitive.” Local newspapers published stories about Jermain W.
Bazaars with the slogan “Buy for the sake of the slave” provided donated luxury items and handcrafted knickknacks just before the winter holidays, and bake sales in support of the Underground Railroad, no matter how unlikely it may seem, became popular fund-raisers in Northern towns and cities.
- Political leaders, especially those who had taken vows to protect the Constitution — including the section ordering the return of runaways to their proper masters — blatantly failed to carry out their obligations.
- Judge William Jay, a son of the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, made the decision to disregard fugitive slave laws and contributed money to aid runaway slaves who managed to flee.
- One overlooked historical irony is that, up until the eve of Southern secession in 1860, states’ rights were cited as frequently by Northern abolitionists as they were by Southern slaveholders, a fact that is worth noting.
- It was not recognized for its abolitionist passion, in contrast to places like as Boston and Philadelphia, which had deep-rooted reformer traditions—as well as communities in upstate New York such as Buffalo and Syracuse.
Even before the city’s final bondsmen were released, in 1827, its economy had become deeply intertwined with that of the South, as evidenced by a gloating editorial in the De Bow newspaper, published shortly before the Civil War, claiming the city was “nearly as reliant on Southern slavery as Charleston.” New York banks lent money to plantation owners to acquire slaves, while New York merchants made their fortunes off the sale of slave-grown cotton and sugar.
- Besides properly recapturing escapees, slave catchers prowled the streets of Manhattan, and they frequently illegally kidnapped free blacks—particularly children—in order to sell them into Southern bondage.
- The story begins in 1846, when a man called George Kirk slipped away aboard a ship sailing from Savannah to New York, only to be discovered by the captain and shackled while awaiting return to his owner.
- The successful fugitive was escorted out of court by a phalanx of local African Americans who were on the lookout for him.
- In this case, the same court found other legal grounds on which to free Kirk, who rolled out triumphantly in a carriage and made his way to the safety of Boston in short order this time.
- In addition to being descended from prominent Puritans, Sydney Howard Gay married a wealthy (and radical) Quaker heiress.
- Co-conspirator Louis Napoleon, who is thought to be the freeborn son of a Jewish New Yorker and an African American slave, was employed as an office porter in Gay’s office.
- Gay was the one who, between 1855 and 1856, maintained the “Record of Fugitives,” which the undergraduate discovered in the Columbia University archives and which chronicled more than 200 escapes.
One first-person narrative starts, “I ate one meal a day for eight years.” “It has been sold three times, and it is expected to be sold a fourth time.
Undoubtedly, a countrywide network existed, with its actions sometimes shrouded in secrecy.
Its routes and timetables were continually changing as well.
As with Gay and Napoleon’s collaboration, its operations frequently brought together people from all walks of life, including the affluent and the poor, black and white.
Among others who decamped to Savannah were a light-skinned guy who set himself up in a first-class hotel, went around town in a magnificent new suit of clothes, and insouciantly purchased a steamship ticket to New York from Savannah.
At the height of the Civil War, the number of such fugitives was still a small proportion of the overall population.
It not only played a role in precipitating the political crisis of the 1850s, but it also galvanized millions of sympathetic white Northerners to join a noble fight against Southern slaveholders, whether they had personally assisted fugitive slaves, shopped at abolitionist bake sales, or simply enjoyed reading about slave escapes in books and newspapers.
- More than anything else, it trained millions of enslaved Americans to gain their freedom at a moment’s notice if necessary.
- Within a few months, a large number of Union soldiers and sailors successfully transformed themselves into Underground Railroad operatives in the heart of the South, sheltering fugitives who rushed in large numbers to the Yankees’ encampments to escape capture.
- Cartwright’s most horrific nightmares.
- On one of the Union’s railway lines, an abolitionist discovered that the volume of wartime traffic was at an all-time high—except on one of them.
- The number of solo travelers is quite limited.” And it’s possible that New Yorkers were surprised to open their eyes in early 1864.
The accompanying essay, on the other hand, soon put their worries at ease. It proposed a plan to construct Manhattan’s first subway line, which would travel northward up Broadway from the Battery to Central Park. It was never built.
A decade before the Civil War, the leading Southern periodical De Bow’s Reviewpublished a series titled Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race—a much-needed study, the editors opined, because it had “direct and practical bearing” on 3 million people whose worth as property totaled approximately $2 billion at the time of the publication. When it comes to African Americans’ supposed laziness (“deficiency of red blood in the pulmonary and arterial systems”), love of dancing (“profuse distribution of nervous matter to the stomach, liver, and genital organs”), and extreme aversion to being whipped (“skin.
- (“Fleeing slave,” he said, was an old Greek phrase for a fugitive slave).
- “Treating one’s slaves lovingly but sternly,” he said, was the first option.
- Despite the fact that only a few thousand individuals, at most, fled slavery each year—nearly all of them from states bordering the free North—their exodus was seen by many Southern whites as a portent of a greater disaster.
- Was it a matter of time until the entire fabric came undone?
- Rather, it was intentionally supported and helped by a well-organized network that was both huge and ominous in scale.
- The term underground railroad brings to mind pictures of trapdoors, flickering torches, and dark passageways winding through the woods, much as it did for most of the population in the 1840s and 1850s.
- At least until recently, researchers paid relatively little attention to the story, which is remarkable considering how prominent it is in the public consciousness.
- The Underground Railroad was widely believed to be a statewide conspiracy with “conductors,” “agents,” and “depots,” but was it really a fiction of popular imagination concocted from a succession of isolated and unconnected escapes?
- Depending on whose historians you trust, the answers will be different.
One historian (white) questioned surviving abolitionists (most of whom were also white) a decade after the Civil War and documented a “big and complicated network” of agents, 3,211 of whom he recognized by name, who he characterized as “a large and intricate network” (nearly all of them white).
- Activist clergyman James W.
- Pennington claimed in 1855 that he had escaped “without the help.
- As a result of his work on Abraham Lincoln and slavery, Eric Foner, one of the nation’s most recognized practitioners of history (his earlier book on the subject was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), has joined an expanding number of researchers who are illuminating the night sky.
- (Since the student, as he makes clear in his acknowledgments, chose to become a lawyer, no scholarly careers were jeopardized in the course of the publication of this book.) Readers will be surprised by the narrative told in Gateway to Freedom: The Secret History of the Underground Railroad.
- Assisting runaways was nothing new for abolitionist organisations, who made a point of publicizing it in pamphlets, publications, and yearly reports.
- Local newspapers published stories about Jermain W.
Bazaars with the slogan “Buy for the sake of the slave” offered donated luxury goods and handcrafted knickknacks just before the winter holidays, and bake sales in support of the Underground Railroad became common fund-raisers in Northern towns and cities, despite the fact that this may seem unlikely.
- Many women were enthralled by these incidents, which transformed everyday, “feminine” tasks like baking, grocery shopping, and sewing into exhilarating acts of moral commitment and political rebellion for thousands of them.
- While governor of New York, William Seward publicly sponsored Underground Railroad operations, and while serving as a senator in the United States Senate, he (not so openly) provided refuge to runaways in his basement.
- When Northern states implemented “personal liberty” acts in the 1850s, they were able to exclude state and municipal authorities from federal fugitive-slave statutes, this act of defiance acquired legal recognition.
- Yet another surprise in Foner’s gripping story is that it takes place in New York City.
- Even as recently as the 1790s, enslaved laborers tended Brooklyn’s outlying fields, constituting a quarter of the city’s total population (40 percent).
- Besides properly recapturing escapees, slave catchers prowled the streets of Manhattan, and they frequently illegally kidnapped free blacks—particularly children—in order to sell them into Southern bond slavery.
- George Kirk snuck away on board a ship bound for New York in 1846, only to be apprehended by the captain and kept in chains while waiting to be returned to his master’s possession.
- Following his triumphant exit from court, the winning fugitive was met with applause from the courtroom’s African-American contingent.
- A second legal basis was discovered by the same court to free Kirk, who this time rolled out triumphantly in a carriage and arrived in the safety of Boston in no time.
- In addition to being descended from prominent Puritans, Sydney Howard Gay married a wealthy (and radical) Quaker heiress, who became the editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard.
- Whilst Gay was busy publishing abolitionist manifestos and raising funds, Napoleon was patrolling the New York harbor in search of black stowaways and traveling the length and breadth of the Mason-Dixon Line in pursuit of those who had managed to escape slavery.
It’s “the most complete description in existence of how the underground railroad worked in New York City,” according to Foner, and it contains “a treasure trove of compelling anecdotes and a storehouse of insights about both slavery and the underground railroad.” One of the most moving passages was when Gay documented the slaves’ accounts of their reasons for fleeing in a matter-of-fact tone.
- Cartwright’s theory, it appears that none of them addressed Drapetomania.
- I was beaten with a hatchet and bled for three days after being struck with 400 lashes by an overseer.” As a result of his research, Foner concludes that the phrase “Underground Railroad” has been used to describe something that is restrictive, if not deceptive.
- Though it had tunnels, it also had straightaways and bright straightaways where its traces might be found.
- It is true that the Underground Railroad had conductors and stationmasters in a sense, but the great majority of its people contributed in ways that were far too diverse to be compared in such a straightforward manner.
- Its passengers and their experiences were almost as different.
- During this time, a Virginia mother and her little daughter had spent five months crouched in a small hiding hole beneath a house near Norfolk before being transported out of the country.
- Although the Underground Railroad operated on a small scale, its effect considerably beyond the size of its activities.
It fostered the suspicions of Southern leaders while driving Northern leaders to choose sides with either the slaves or the slavecatchers.
Escapees were reported to be flooding northward at an unusual rate just a few days after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861.
There had been a Drapetomania on a magnitude that was worse beyond Dr.
The Reverend Samuel Cartwright passed away in 1863, just a few months after the Emancipation Proclamation, which officially established Drapetomania as a national policy.
As he put it, the Underground Railroad “has hardly no business at all these days.
New Yorkers may have been astonished to open their eyes in the early 1864 season as well.
The accompanying piece, on the other hand, soon put their concerns to rest. According to the plan, Manhattan’s first subway line would travel northward up Broadway from the Battery to Central Park, beginning at 42nd Street.
Facts, information and articles about the Underground Railroad
Aproximate year of birth: 1780
The beginnings of the American Civil War occurred around the year 1862.
Estimates range between 6,000 and 10,000.
From 6,000 to 8,000 people are expected to attend
The Story of How Canada Became the Final Station on the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and a Spion is well documented.
The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad
Even before the nineteenth century, it appears that a mechanism to assist runaways existed. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his escaped slaves by “a organization of Quakers, founded for such purposes.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge. Their influence may have played a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, which was home to a large number of Quakers.
In recognition of his contributions, Levi is often referred to as the “president of the Underground Railroad.” In Fountain City, Ohio, on Ohio’s western border, the eight-room Indiana home they bought and used as a “station” before they came to Cincinnati has been preserved and is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
Runaway assistance appears to have occurred well before the nineteenth century. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his fugitive slaves by “a organization of Quakers, created specifically for this reason.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge in the nineteenth century. It is possible that their influence had a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, given it was home to many Quakers at the time.
Due to his role in the Underground Railroad, Levi is sometimes referred to as its president.
“Eliza” was one of the slaves who hid within it, and her narrative served as the inspiration for the character of the same name in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (published in 1852).
Conductors On The Railroad
A “conductor,” who pretended to be a slave, would sometimes accompany fugitives to a plantation in order to lead them on their journey. Harriet Tubman, a former slave who traveled to slave states 19 times and liberated more than 300 people, is one of the most well-known “conductors.” She used her shotgun to threaten death to any captives who lost heart and sought to return to slavery. The Underground Railroad’s operators faced their own set of risks as well. If someone living in the North was convicted of assisting fugitives in their escape, he or she could face fines of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, which was a significant sum at the time; however, in areas where abolitionism was strong, the “secret” railroad was openly operated, and no one was arrested.
His position as the most significant commander of the Underground Railroad in and around Albany grew as time went on.
However, in previous times of American history, the phrase “vigilance committee” generally refers to citizen organizations that took the law into their own hands, prosecuting and hanging those suspected of crimes when there was no local government or when they considered the local authority was corrupt or weak.
White males who were found assisting slaves in their escape were subjected to heavier punishments than white women, but both were likely to face at the very least incarceration.
The most severe punishments, such as hundreds of lashing with a whip, burning, or hanging, were reserved for any blacks who were discovered in the process of assisting fugitive fugitives on the loose.
The Civil War On The Horizon
Events such as the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott decision compelled more anti-slavery activists to take an active part in the effort to liberate slaves in the United States. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Southern states began to secede in December 1860, putting an end to the Union’s hopes of achieving independence from the United States. Abolitionist newspapers and even some loud abolitionists warned against giving the remaining Southern states an excuse to separate. Lucia Bagbe (later known as Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson) is considered to be the final slave who was returned to bondage as a result of the Fugitive Slave Law.
Her owner hunted her down and arrested her in December 1860.
Even the Cleveland Leader, a Republican weekly that was traditionally anti-slavery and pro-the Fugitive Slave Legislation, warned its readers that allowing the law to run its course “may be oil thrown upon the seas of our nation’s difficulties,” according to the newspaper.
In her honor, a Grand Jubilee was celebrated on May 6, 1863, in the city of Cleveland.
The Reverse Underground Railroad
A “reverse Underground Railroad” arose in the northern states surrounding the Ohio River during the Civil War. The black men and women of those states, whether or not they had previously been slaves, were occasionally kidnapped and concealed in homes, barns, and other structures until they could be transported to the South and sold as slaves.
Underground Railroad in Iowa
Initially funded by the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom program in 2002, the Iowa Network to Freedom project, which investigated persons and locations involved with the Underground Railroad in Iowa, became the Iowa Freedom Trail Project in 2003. After a five-year period of grant funding, volunteers have continued to collect information from historical resources and compile it into a form containing general information, such as biographical data, resource references, associated properties, and researcher information, among other things, to be used by the public.
- Individuals (by name)
- Individuals (by county)
- Places (by county)
- Research Files (by county)
- Inventory of Individuals (by name)
- Inventory of Places (by county)
- Inventory of Research Files
If you have any concerns concerning the Iowa Freedom Trail Project, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Researching Underground Railroad Activity
Since 2002, volunteers at the State Historical Society of Iowa have been doing research into the Underground Railroad’s presence in the state. The research and biographical form instructions can be found here.
If you are interested in researching Underground Railroad activity in Iowa and have access to historical documents and primary sources, please review the instructions for submitting a research and biographical form to learn how you can contribute to the project.
- Beginning in 2002, members of the Iowa State Historical Society conducted investigation into possible Underground Railroad activities in the state. The research and biographical form instructions can be found here. If you are interested in researching Underground Railroad activity in Iowa and have access to historical documents and primary sources, please review the instructions for submitting a research and biographical form to learn more about how you can contribute to the project.
Iowa and the Underground Railroad
Beginning in the late 1700s and continuing until the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the Underground Railroad was a network of people who assisted runaway slaves in their attempts to escape slavery. It included both northern and southern states, spanning from Texas all the way up to Maine. The vast majority of runaway slaves fled to Canada from the Deep South, although a minor number journeyed further south to Mexico and the Caribbean. Due to the fact that slaves were considered property in the United States at the time, helping runaway slaves was deemed larceny under American law at the time.
Prior to the American Revolution, slavery was lawful across the British Empire, including the United States.
These principles would transform the lives of black people, and many of them fought in the American Revolution in the hope that these rights would be given to them as well.
Vermont became the first state in the new United States of America to pass anti-slavery legislation after the British were defeated in the Revolutionary War in 1777.
Apart from that, there were no laws in the newly created United States that forced civilians to return fugitive slaves to their owners.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and Article IV, section 2 of the United States Constitution both stated similar views on the subject at the time.
Taking it a step further, the Fleeing Slave Act of 1850 declared aiding and abetting fugitive slaves a federal felony punishable by penalties or jail.
As the Underground Railroad network began to take shape, people began to fill a number of positions inside it.
Fugitive slaves were often referred to as passengers, cargo, fleece, or freight when they were on the run.
Others choose to play a more passive role.
The modes of transportation used varied from one region to the next, and were mostly determined by concealment and closeness to slave hunters.
In contrast to this, the majority of fleeing slaves travelled at night, particularly in towns with ambivalent sentiments regarding slavery.
In the middle of the night, conductors would walk or ride horses to the next station to transport them.
Because of its physical proximity between Missouri, a slave state to the south, and Illinois, a free state to the east, Iowa saw a substantial amount of Underground Railroad activity during this period.
That meant that when Iowa became a state in the Union in 1846, it would be a free state.
Most fugitive slaves crossed through Iowa on their route to other free states farther north or to Canada, where Britain would protect them from being arrested and returned to slavery.
Southeastern Iowa was also home to a large number of fugitive slaves from northern Missouri who were making their way to the Mississippi River and Illinois.
Numerous Iowans also became involved in the growing political opposition to the expansion of slavery into the Kansas and Nebraska Territories, which culminated in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and granted Kansas and Nebraska the authority to determine their own slave-holding status.
You may get further information about the history of the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movements in Iowa and other states by clicking here. Take a look at the resources listed below.
- Beginning in the late 1700s and continuing until the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the Underground Railroad was a network of people who assisted runaway slaves in their attempts to flee slavery. Between Texas and Maine, it stretched over northern and southern states. While the vast majority of fugitive slaves fled to Canada, a small number made their way south to Mexico and the Caribbean islands. Because they were legally considered property at the time, helping fugitive slaves was deemed larceny under U.S. law during that time frame. Anyone found guilty of supporting an escaped slave might face a fine as well as imprisonment. The institution of slavery was lawful across the British Empire prior to the American Revolution. It happened after the Enlightenment period, when people came to believe in and advocate for the notion of a person’s right to life, liberty, and property. In the minds of black people, these values would transform their lives, and many fought in the American Revolution in the hopes that these rights would be given to them as well. Slavery was questioned by many early American colonists, prompting the emergence of the abolitionist movement in response to their beliefs. Vermont was the first state to join the newly formed United States of America with anti-slavery legislation after the British were defeated in the American Revolutionary War in 1775. By 1780, Pennsylvania had followed suit, and by 1804 all northern states had done the same. The newly founded United States also did not have any laws requiring individuals to return fugitive slaves to their owners. Laws mandating the return of fugitive slaves were enacted, however, out of concern for property rights. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and Article IV, section 2 of the United States Constitution both stated identical views on the subject at the time of their adoption. A provision in the Constitution known as the “fugitive slave clause” states that “No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws of that State, who escapes into another, shall, as a result of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall, upon the Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due, be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due.” Abolishing slavery was strengthened by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which granted slaveholders the power to retrieve runaway slaves and granted judges the authority to determine the legal status of fugitive slaves. Taking it a step further, the Fleeing Slave Act of 1850 declared aiding and abetting fugitive slaves a federal felony punishable by penalties and jail. Treason charges might be brought against those who are proven guilty in some instances. A number of positions were filled within the Underground Railroad network as the network came into being. Among the slave networks, station masters, for example, concealed slaves in their homes or on their land, which was known to as a station or depot by those who worked in it. Fleecing slaves were referred to as passengers, cargo, fleece, and freight when they were on the run. It was the responsibility of Underground Railroad conductors to guide runaway slaves via the Underground Railroad routes or tracks. Others were more passive in their participation. General agents, for example, connected fleeing slaves to persons who could assist them on the Underground Railroad, and investors contributed to the Underground Railroad network’s financial well-being. Depending on the locale, transportation techniques varied and were mostly dictated by concealment and closeness to slave hunters, among other considerations. When fleeing slaves were carried during the day in covered wagons, they were generally disguised under hay or other items of value in villages that were nearly completely anti-slavery. In contrast to this, the majority of fleeing slaves travelled at night, especially in towns with ambivalent sentiments regarding slavery. They remained in near-constant concealment in numerous locations, which included fields and secret chambers in private homes. Nighttime transportation was provided by walking or horseback conductors, who transported them to the next location. In addition to buses, trains were sometimes utilized, but this was less frequent due to the high cost and careful supervision. Given its physical proximity to Missouri, a slave state to the south, and Illinois, a free state to the east, Iowa had a substantial amount of Underground Railroad activity during this period. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 also stated that no state north of the 36°30′ parallel (apart from Missouri) could be admitted as a slave state into the United States of America. In other words, when Iowa became a state in 1846, it would be a free one. Some settlers in Iowa did not believe slavery was wrong, but many did, and many of those who did came from neighboring free states or were linked with religious groups such as the Quakers and Congregationalists, who were outspoken in their opposition to the institution. Fugitive slaves sometimes went through Iowa on their route to other free states farther north or to Canada, where Britain would protect them from being returned if they were caught. The majority of Underground Railroad action in Iowa took occurred in Fremont and Mills counties, when runaway slaves journeyed from western Missouri to escape their captors. Many fleeing slaves from northern Missouri made their way to the Mississippi River and Illinois through southeastern Iowa, as well. During the 1850s, large Underground Railroad stations were established at Tabor and Civil Bend, both in western Iowa. There were many Iowans who became involved in the growing political opposition to the expansion of slavery into the Kansas and Nebraska Territories, which culminated in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise while granting Kansas and Nebraska the authority to determine their own slave-holding status. Do you want to learn more about the history of the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movements in Iowa and beyond? Look no further. See the links below for further information.