As slave lore tells it, the North Star played a key role in helping slaves to find their way—a beacon to true north and freedom. Escaping slaves could find it by locating the Big Dipper, a well-recognized asterism most visible in the night sky in late winter and spring.
What is the importance of the North Star in geography?
- In the past, sailors and explorers used sextants and Polaris to figure out their latitude. Navigators on ships had to be highly skilled. They needed a lot of knowledge of math and the night sky to successfully navigate at sea. The North Star was also important on the Underground Railroad.
Why was The North Star newspaper important?
He established the abolitionist paper The North Star on December 3, 1847, in Rochester, NY, and developed it into the most influential black antislavery paper published during the antebellum era. It was used to not only denounce slavery, but to fight for the emancipation of women and other oppressed groups.
What was the Underground Railroad and why was it created?
The Underground Railroad was established to aid enslaved people in their escape to freedom. The railroad was comprised of dozens of secret routes and safe houses originating in the slaveholding states and extending all the way to the Canadian border, the only area where fugitives could be assured of their freedom.
What did the slaves call The North Star?
What are some other ways escaping slaves could determine where “north” was? One of the best clues they could use to find north was to locate the North Star. The North Star is also called Polaris.
What was the Underground Railroad meant for?
The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early- to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans primarily to escape into free states and Canada.
Why was the North Star important to slaves?
As slave lore tells it, the North Star played a key role in helping slaves to find their way— a beacon to true north and freedom. Escaping slaves could find it by locating the Big Dipper, a well-recognized asterism most visible in the night sky in late winter and spring.
What was the North Star what was its message?
While focusing on ending slavery and promoting the advancement and equality of African Americans, Douglass strongly supported women’s rights. From its beginning, the motto of The North Star proclaimed: ” RIGHT IS OF NO SEX–TRUTH IS OF NO COLOR–GOD IS THE FATHER OF US ALL, AND ALL WE ARE BRETHREN.”
How far north did the Underground Railroad go?
Because it was dangerous to be in free states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, or even Massachusetts after 1850, most people hoping to escape traveled all the way to Canada. So, you could say that the Underground Railroad went from the American south to Canada.
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 impact did the Underground Railroad have on Canada?
They helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada. The Underground Railroad was the largest anti-slavery freedom movement in North America. It brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada).
How did slaves navigate 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. Many times these stations would be located within their own homes and businesses.
Who used the North Star?
Due to its consistent position in the sky, at one time sailors used the North Star as a navigational tool. By measuring the angle between the northern horizon and the North Star, a navigator could accurately determine the ship’s latitude.
Who followed the Northern Star?
As the well-known story in the Gospel of Matthew goes, three Magi, or wise men, followed the Star of Bethlehem to Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.
How was the Underground Railroad successful?
The success of the Underground Railroad rested on the cooperation of former runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who helped guide runaway slaves along the routes and provided their homes as safe havens.
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.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
Pathways to Freedom
Take the path of the Drinking Gourd. Slaves who managed to flee had to make their way north. States in the north, such as New York and Massachusetts, had active abolitionist societies and charitable organizations — both black and white — that were willing to assist runaway slaves. The last destination for the slaves was Canada, which was located north of the United States border. Abolition of slavery was not authorized in the country, and American laws that allowed citizens to apprehend fugitive slaves were of little use there either.
They were well aware that moss typically grew on the north faces of trees.
Finding the North Star was one of the most important indicators they could use to determine their location in the north.
It is unlike other stars in that it does not shift its position.
- People have historically relied on a constellation of stars to guide them to the North Star.
- People have said that the group resembles a Big Bear at times.
- The Drinking Gourd was the name given to this group of stars by slaves.
- The gourds had a similar appearance to long-handled cups.
- It was possible for persons traveling at night to always find the North Star by looking for the “drinking gourd” in the sky.
- Many people are familiar with the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” which was written in the 1960s.
- The song is a mashup of ancient concepts and fresh phrases created by a diverse group of musicians.
View from Mars Hill: North Star’s connection to slavery both literal and symbolic
“The Big Dipper can be seen from the Watchtower.” KEVIN SCHINDLER is a writer based in New York City. “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a well-known children’s fable, appears to be particularly relevant at this point in time. An eponymous peg-legged sailor embarks on a journey across the pre-Civil War American South, imparting knowledge to slaves about a set of stars known as the drinking gourd, which is more commonly known as the Big Dipper. Essentially, the gourd is a guiding beacon for slaves attempting to flee to the northern states or Canada, and the story revolves around this fact.
- Since ancient times, people have used the North Star (Polaris) as a compass to navigate their way north.
- Observers can then calculate the other cardinal directions by determining where it is in relation to the sun.
- As a result, the North Star was significant to many different groups of people, but possibly none more so than slaves.
- When the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was once an escaped slave, began publishing a weekly antislavery newspaper in 1847, he helped to solidify this notion.
- A allusion to the star’s significance to escaping slaves, Douglass dubbed it “The North Star” in his writings.
According to a related story, in the 1910s, more than half a century after the end of the Civil War, an amateur folklorist named Harris Braley Parks claimed to have discovered the drinking gourd song after hearing it sung several times and then listening to a man in Texas explain the encoded words that described the path for slaves to escape to the North.
In recent years, a number of researchers have cast doubt on the veracity of the lyrics encoded in the song, raising concerns about their authenticity.
We may never know whether or not the story told in “Follow the Drinking Gourd” is accurate, but it does not take away from the significance of the North Star to the slaves in the novel. Every week, you’ll receive opinion articles, letters, and editorials sent straight to your email!
Escaped Slaves Followed the North Star to Freedom
“The Big Dipper may be seen from the Watch Tower.” SCHINDLER, KEVIN “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a well-known children’s fable, appears to be particularly relevant at this time. In it, a peg-legged sailor travels across the pre-Civil War South, educating slaves about a constellation of stars known as the drinking gourd — sometimes known as the Big Dipper — through a song he has composed. Essentially, the gourd is a navigational beacon for slaves attempting to flee to the northern United States or Canada, and the story revolves around this fact.
- Since ancient times, people have used the North Star (Polaris) as a navigational aid.
- Observers can identify the other cardinal directions by determining where it is in the sky.
- As a result, the North Star was significant to a wide range of people, but possibly none more so than the African slave population.
- When the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was once an escaped slave, began publishing a weekly antislavery newspaper in 1847, he furthered this philosophy.
- Was there a particular newspaper?
Another note: In the 1910s, half a century after the Civil War ended, an amateur folklorist named Harris Braley Parks claimed to have discovered the drinking gourd song, claiming to have heard it several times and then listening to a man in Texas explain the encrypted words that described the path for slaves attempting to elude capture and make their way north.
The veracity of the encoded words in the song has been called into question by various researchers in recent years.
The truth of the story told in “Follow the Drinking Gourd” may never be known, but it does not reduce the significance of the North Star to slaves throughout history. You’ll receive weekly emails with opinion articles, letters, and editorials.
Harriet Tubman: Follow the North Star to Freedom – Handout A: Narrative
Araminta Ross was born about 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland, to parents who were slaves. Harriet Tubman was the daughter of enslaved parents. In her sixth year, her owner sent her to a neighbor’s house where she worked as a nursemaid in the family’s household. Harriet will ultimately work in the fields of the plantations where she had grown up. During her thirties, she married a free black man called John Tubman, and in order to honor her mother, she changed her name from Araminta to Harriett.
She left her husband and children behind and fled to the North via the Underground Railroad, where she died in 1850.
She returned to the South at least 19 times in order to rescue her family and hundreds of other slaves who were enslaved there.
Harriet Tubman had the belief that you either “lived free or died a slave” in America. She felt driven to assist people at all times, whether they were members of her family, friends, or complete strangers. When it came to the abolitionist cause, Tubman was a champion, and even people who only knew her via legends of her courage admired and respected her. She felt a sense of obligation toward other enslaved peoples as well as toward those who assisted her in securely removing slaves from the South.
- When she was twelve years old, her master sent her to run an errand to a store.
- She refused and the man responded by throwing a 2-pound weight at her, which struck her in the head.
- She had seizures and migraines for the remainder of her life, and she was hospitalized several times.
- After escaping from slavery herself, Harriet made the decision to return to the South in order to assist others in escaping the horrors of slavery.
- Runaway slaves were permitted to spend the night in hiding places such as beneath bookshelves or in false-bottom carriages by Quakers and other abolitionists during the American Civil War.
- For eight years, Harriet returned to Maryland to rescue relatives and close friends who had become separated from them.
- Harriet had to face a number of difficulties in order to complete the travels.
Harriet strolled at night and napped during the day in order to avoid being discovered by the bloodhound dogs on the lookout for fugitive slaves who were on the run.
To confront the ongoing hazards, she needed strength, courage, drive, and a strong feeling of personal responsibility.
A tougher Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the federal government in 1850, which mandated that all fugitive slaves in the northern United States be brought back to their owners.
Newspapers published accounts of the escapees and offered monetary rewards.
She relocated her legs of the Underground Railroad to Canada in order to prevent the escaped slaves from being apprehended in places where the Fugitive Slave Act was in effect.
She was never apprehended, and she never lost an escaped enslaved individual.
Tubman’s sense of responsibility for others persisted even after the war and the abolition of slavery.
When she became too elderly and unwell to manage the house any longer, she deeded the property to authorities of the Church of Zion, who took over the management of the facility until she died.
Harriet herself moved into the home at the end of her life to spend her final days with her family. Harriet Tubman never lost sight of her conviction that she had a responsibility to do as much good as she possibly could for as long as she possibly could for the people of the world.
AstroFan: Tale of the Drinking Gourd
The Big Dipper is, without a doubt, one of the most well-known constellations in our night sky. But did you know that during the time of the Underground Railroad, this night-sky icon served as a beacon of hope for those seeking freedom in the United States? A large number of American slaves utilized the Big Dipper—also known as the Drinking Gourd—as a navigational aid to locate the North Star in the night sky, which brought them to the northern (freed) states during the early to mid-19th centuries.
Please take a look at the following excerpt, which appears to have come directly from a GPS navigational device: Following the drinking gourd is a good idea.
The path will be marked by dead trees.
It was only through being able to gaze to the stars for directional guidance that slaves were able to overcome these unfair setbacks and continue their journey towards liberation.
More About The North Star
An often-heard myth is that the North Star is the brightest star in the night sky. This is not true at all. This is completely false. It is actually just around the 50th brightest star in the sky! Despite the fact that it is not the brightest star in the sky, the North Star functioned as an excellent celestial guide for slaves since it stayed in the same location in the northern night sky throughout the year! As a result, the North star became a trustworthy method of determining which direction was due north at all times.
If you were to take a time lapse video of the night sky, you would see that all of the stars appear to be rotating around the sun.
Spotting The Drinking Gourd And The North Star
You may utilize the Big Dipper (Drinking Gourd) to locate the North Star, much as the ancients did (Polaris). Simply follow the path of the outermost portion of the Big Dipper until you reach the tail end of the Little Dipper, and you’ll have discovered the North Star. Simple as that! So, the next time you see the Big Dipper, keep this in mind. Years of research have revealed that the act of gazing up has not only inspired amazement and wonder in centuries of humanity, but it has also functioned as a navigational aid in the pursuit of a better tomorrow.
Thank you for taking the time to read this!
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BIG DIPPER –
North Star, subsequently known as Frederick Douglass’ Paper, was an antislavery newspaper produced by African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the early nineteenth century. This antislavery journal, which was first published on December 3, 1847, using monies raised by Douglass during a speaking tour of Great Britain and Ireland, rapidly rose to become one of the most significant African American antislavery periodicals of the pre-Civil War era in the United States. This was done to pay tribute to the fact that fleeing slaves used the North Star to navigate their way to freedom in the night sky.
In its slogan, the journal stated, “Right is without distinction of gender or race—Truth is without distinction of color—God is the Father of us all, and we are brethren.” Douglass provided an explanation for his decision to start an African American-owned newspaper in the inaugural issue of The North Star in 1899.
- He asserted, however, that it is plain sense that people who are victimized by injustice are the ones who must seek restitution, and that, as a result, African American authors, editors, and orators must have their own publication with which to express their views.
- The first of the book’s four pages was devoted to current events that were related to abolitionist causes.
- Pages two and three were devoted to editorials, letters from readers, essays, poetry, and book reviews, with ads taking up the whole fourth page of the magazine.
- Additionally, Douglass was a passionate proponent of education for African Americans as well as equal rights for all people, including women.
- He supplemented his income by giving lectures, and in 1848 he even took out a mortgage on his home to keep the journal afloat.
- In the end, the newspaper was renamed Frederick Douglass’ Paper, and its appearance and substance stayed essentially same throughout the years, even after the name was changed several times.
- Dougliss ended his association with Garrison in 1851, after the latter had persuaded him to join the abolitionist cause in the first place.
- In contrast to Douglass, who ardently believed in political settlement, Garrison, despite his initial belief in nonviolence, grew to consider that violence could be required if emancipation was not attained fast.
- Despite the fact that the visit had been planned for some months, it is possible that it protected him from being arrested in connection with theassault on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, commanded by radical abolitionist John Brown in October 1859.
Despite the fact that he disagreed with Brown’s objectives, he was aware that he would not receive a fair trial and so fled the United States for six months. Melissa Petruzzello was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.
Photo of the Week: Follow the North Star along the Harriet Tubman Byway
(Photo courtesy of Will Parson) by Stephanie Smith The 22nd of September, 2016 Polaris, often known as the North Star, appears to be motionless over the horizon of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in the United States of America. In the nineteenth century, Harriet Tubman, who grew up in the vicinity of the refuge in Dorchester County, Maryland, used the constellation Polaris to guide her and other escaped slaves north on the Underground Railroad, a path forged by freedom-seeking slaves and abolitionists during the American Civil War.
A decade later, Tubman took more than a dozen excursions back to Maryland, risking her life in the process of transporting the relatives and friends who had been imprisoned there by the Confederate government.
Throughout the 125-mile Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, which winds through Caroline and Dorchester Counties, visitors can stop at more than 30 sites that tell the story of Tubman’s path to freedom, including the places where she lived and worked, as well as the places where she fought for her own freedom and that of countless others.
When describing a network of meeting spots, hidden routes, passages, and safehouses used by slaves in the United States to escape slave-holding states and seek refuge in northern states and Canada, the Underground Railroad was referred to as the Underground Railroad (UR). The underground railroad, which was established in the early 1800s and sponsored by persons active in the Abolitionist Movement, assisted thousands of slaves in their attempts to escape bondage. Between 1810 and 1850, it is estimated that 100,000 slaves escaped from bondage in the southern United States.
Facts, information and articles about the Underground Railroad
Aproximate year of birth: 1780
The beginnings of the American Civil War occurred around the year 1862.
The commencement of the American Civil War occurred around 1862.
Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. William Still is a well-known author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin. John Fairfield is a well-known author.
The Story of How Canada Became the Final Station on the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and a Spion is well documented.
The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad
Canada’s Role as the Final Station of the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and as a Spione
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
Owen Brown, the father of radical abolitionist John Brown, was a member of the Underground Railroad in the state of New York during the Civil War. An unconfirmed narrative suggests that “Mammy Sally” designated the house where Abraham Lincoln’s future wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, grew up and served as a safe house where fugitives could receive food, but the account is doubtful. Routes of the Underground Railroad It was not until the early 1830s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was first used.
Fugitives going by water or on genuine trains were occasionally provided with clothing so that they wouldn’t give themselves away by wearing their worn-out job attire.
Many of them continued on to Canada, where they could not be lawfully reclaimed by their rightful owners.
The slave or slaves were forced to flee from their masters, which was frequently done at night.
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
Because of events like the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott decision, an increasing number of anti-slavery activists were involved in the movement to liberate slaves. Southern states began seceding in December 1860, following the election of Abraham Lincoln to the president, putting a crimp in the works of the Union. Abolitionist newspapers and even some loud abolitionists urged 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 Act.
Her owner hunted her down and arrested her in December 1860.
In fact, the Cleveland Leader, a Republican journal that had previously taken a strong stance against slavery and the Fugitive Slave Legislation, warned its readers that allowing the law to run its course “may be oil thrown upon the rivers of our nation’s problems.” Lucy was sent to Ohio County, Virginia, where she was chastised, but she was eventually released when Union soldiers conquered the region.
On May 6, 1863, the city of Cleveland hosted a Grand Jubilee in her honor.
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
As a result of events such as the Missouri Compromise and the Dred Scott decision, more anti-slavery activists took an active role in the effort to liberate slaves. A crimp was put in the works, however, when Southern states began to secede in December 1860, after Abraham Lincoln’s election to the president. Even even vocal abolitionist newspapers expressed concern about providing the remaining Southern states a chance to secede. Lucy Bagbe (later Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson) is considered to be the final slave to be returned to bondage under the Fugitive Slave Law.
The abolitionists of Cleveland helped her when her owner hunted her down in December 1860.
Even the Cleveland Leader, a Republican journal that was traditionally opposed to slavery and the Fugitive Slave Legislation, warned its readers that allowing the law to run its course “may be oil thrown upon the rivers of our nation’s difficulties.” Following her capture, Lucy was carried back to Ohio County, Virginia, and punished, but she was released at some time when Union soldiers took control of the region.
On May 6, 1863, a Grand Jubilee was celebrated in her honor in Cleveland, Ohio.
A Dangerous Path to Freedom
Traveling through the Underground Railroad to seek their freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, in a short amount of time in order to escape. They accomplished this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were rushing after them in the night. Slave owners were not the only ones who sought for and apprehended fleeing slaves. For the purpose of encouraging people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters offering monetary compensation for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
- They would have to fend off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them while trekking for lengthy periods of time in the wilderness, as well as cross dangerous terrain and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the arrest of fugitive slaves since they were regarded as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the law at the time.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the southern states, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’ American Memory and America’s Library collections.
He did not escape via the Underground Railroad, but rather on a regular railroad.
Since he was a fugitive slave who did not have any “free papers,” he had to borrow a seaman’s protection certificate, which indicated that a seaman was a citizen of the United States, in order to prove that he was free.
Unfortunately, not all fugitive slaves were successful in their quest for freedom.
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson, and John Parker were just a few of the people who managed to escape slavery using the Underground Railroad system.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet in diameter. When he was finally let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
Train conductors on the Underground Railroad were free persons who provided assistance to escaped slaves moving via the Underground Railroad system. Runaway slaves were assisted by conductors, who provided them with safe transportation to and from train stations. They were able to accomplish this under the cover of darkness, with slave hunters on their tails. Many of these stations would be in the comfort of their own homes or places of work, which was convenient. They were in severe danger as a result of their actions in hiding fleeing slaves; nonetheless, they continued because they believed in a cause bigger than themselves, which was the liberation thousands of oppressed human beings.
- They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
- Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
- With the following words from one of his songs, abolitionist poet John Whittier paid respect to Walker’s valiant actions: “Take a step forward with your muscular right hand, brave ploughman of the sea!
- She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
- He went on to write a novel.
- John Parker is yet another former slave who escaped and returned to slave states in order to aid in the emancipation of others.
Rankin’s neighbor and fellow conductor, Reverend John Rankin, was a collaborator in the Underground Railroad project.
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were unquestionably anti-slavery, and they were not alone in their views.
Individuals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur and Lewis Tappan founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which marked the beginning of the abolitionist movement.
The group published an annual almanac that featured poetry, paintings, essays, and other abolitionist material.
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who rose to prominence as an abolitionist after escaping from slavery.
His other abolitionist publications included the Frederick Douglass Paper, which he produced in addition to delivering public addresses on themes that were important to abolitionists.
Anthony was another well-known abolitionist who advocated for the abolition of slavery via her speeches and writings.
For the most part, she based her novel on the adventures of escaped slave Josiah Henson.
Efforts of Abolitionists Telling Their Story:Fugitive Slave Narratives
Henry Bibb was born into slavery in Kentucky in the year 1815, and he was the son of a slave owner. After several failed efforts to emancipate himself from slavery, he maintained the strength and persistence to continue his struggle for freedom despite being captured and imprisoned numerous times. His determination paid off when he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then on to Canada with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, which had been highly anticipated. The following is an excerpt from his tale, in which he detailed one of his numerous escapes and the difficulties he faced as a result of his efforts.
- I began making preparations for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the shackles that tied me as a slave as soon as the clock struck twelve.
- On the twenty-fifth of December, 1837, the long-awaited day had finally arrived when I would put into effect my previous determination, which was to flee for Liberty or accept death as a slave, as I had previously stated.
- It took every ounce of moral strength I have to keep my emotions under control as I said goodbye to my small family.
- Despite the fact that every incentive was extended to me in order to flee if I want to be free, and the call of liberty was booming in my own spirit, ‘Be free, oh, man!
- I was up against a slew of hurdles that had gathered around my mind, attempting to bind my wounded soul, which was still imprisoned in the dark prison of mental degeneration.
- Furthermore, the danger of being killed or arrested and deported to the far South, where I would be forced to spend the rest of my days in hopeless bondage on a cotton or sugar plantation, all conspired to discourage me.
- The moment has come for me to follow through on my commitment.
- This marked the beginning of the construction of what was known as the underground rail route to Canada.
For nearly forty-eight hours, I pushed myself to complete my journey without food or rest, battling against external difficulties that no one who has never experienced them can comprehend: “not knowing when I might be captured while traveling among strangers, through cold and fear, braving the north winds while wearing only a thin layer of clothing, pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not a single house in which I could enter to protect me from the storm.” This is merely one of several accounts penned by runaway slaves who were on the run from their masters.
Sojourner Truth was another former slave who became well-known for her work to bring slavery to an end.
Green and many others, including Josiah Henson, authored autobiographies in which they described their own personal experiences.
Perhaps a large number of escaped slaves opted to write down their experiences in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or perhaps they did so in order to help folks learn from the mistakes of the past in order to create a better future for themselves.
8 Key Contributors to the Underground Railroad
Isaac Hopper, an abolitionist, is shown in this image from the Kean Collection/Getty Images. As early as 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with a “organization of Quakers, founded for such reasons,” which had sought to free a neighbor’s slave. Quakers were instrumental in the establishment of the Underground Railroad. Slavery was opposed in especially in Philadelphia, where Isaac Hopper, a Quaker who converted to Christianity, created what has been described as “the first working cell of the abolitionist underground.” Hopper not only protected escaped slave hunters in his own house, but he also constructed a network of safe havens and recruited a web of spies in order to get insight into their plans.
Hopper, a friend of Joseph Bonaparte, the exiled brother of the former French emperor, went to New York City in 1829 and established himself as a successful businessman.
READ MORE: The Underground Railroad and Its Operation
2. John Brown
John Brown, an abolitionist, about 1846 GraphicaArtis/Getty Images courtesy of Similar to his father, John Brown actively participated in the Underground Railroad by hosting runaways at his home and warehouse and organizing an anti-slave catcher militia following the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which he inherited from his father. The next year, he joined several of his sons in the so-called “Bleeding Kansas” war, leading one attack that resulted in the deaths of five pro-slavery settlers in 1856.
Brown’s radicalization continued to grow, and his ultimate act occurred in October 1859, when he and 21 supporters seized the government arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an effort to incite a large-scale slave uprising.
3. Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she experienced repeated violent beatings, one of which involving a two-pound lead weight, which left her with seizures and migraines for the rest of her life. Tubman fled bondage in 1849, following the North Star on a 100-mile walk into Pennsylvania, fearing she would be sold and separated from her family. She died in the process. She went on to become the most well-known “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, participating in around 13 rescue missions back into Maryland and rescuing at least 70 enslaved individuals, including several of her siblings.
As a scout, spy, and healer for the Union Army, Tubman maintained her anti-slavery activities during the Civil War, and is believed to have been the first woman in the United States to lead troops into battle. Tubman died in 1865. When Harriet Tubman Led a Civil War Raid, You Should Pay Attention
4. Thomas Garrett
‘Thomas Garrett’ is a fictional character created by author Thomas Garrett. The New York Public Library is a public library in New York City. The Quaker “stationmaster” Thomas Garrett, who claimed to have assisted over 2,750 escaped slaves before the commencement of the Civil War, lived in Wilmington, Delaware, and Tubman frequently stopped there on her route up north. Garret not only gave his guests with a place to stay but also with money, clothing & food. He even personally led them to a more secure area on occasion, arm in arm.
Despite this, he persisted in his efforts.
He also stated that “if any of you know of any poor slave who needs assistance, please send him to me, as I now publicly pledge myself to double my diligence and never miss an opportunity to assist a slave to obtain freedom.”
5. William Still
William Still is a well-known author and poet. Photograph courtesy of the Hulton Archive/Getty Images Many runaways traveled from Wilmington, the final Underground Railroad station in the slave state of Delaware, to the office of William Still in adjacent Philadelphia, which was the last stop on their journey. The Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, which provided food and clothing, coordinated escapes, raised funds, and otherwise served as a one-stop social services shop for hundreds of fugitive slaves each year, was chaired by Still, who was a free-born African American.
Still ultimately produced a book in which he chronicled the personal histories of his guests, which offered valuable insight into the operation of the Underground Railroad as a whole.
His assistance to Osborne Anderson, the only African-American member of John Brown’s company to survive the Harpers Ferry raid, was another occasion when he was called upon.
6. Levi Coffin
Charles T. Webber’s painting The Underground Railroad depicts fleeing slaves Levi Coffin, his wife Catherine, and Hannah Haydock providing assistance to the group of fugitive slaves. Getty Images/Bettina Archive/Getty Images Levi Coffin, often known as the “president of the Underground Railroad,” is said to have been an abolitionist when he was seven years old after witnessing a column of chained slaves people being taken to an auction house. Following a humble beginning delivering food to fugitives holed up on his family’s North Carolina plantation, he rose through the ranks to become a successful trader and prolific “stationmaster,” first in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana, and subsequently in Cincinnati, Kentucky.
In addition to hosting anti-slavery lectures and abolitionist sewing club meetings, Coffin, like his fellow Quaker Thomas Garrett, stood steadfast when hauled before a court of law.
His writings state that “the dictates of humanity came in direct conflict with the law of the land,” and that “we rejected the law.”
7. Elijah Anderson
The Ohio River, which formed the border between slave and free states, was referred to as the River Jordan in abolitionist circles because it represented the border between slave and free states. Madison, Indiana, was an especially appealing crossing point for enslaved persons on the run, because to an Underground Railroad cell established there by blacksmith Elijah Anderson and several other members of the town’s Black middle class in the 1850s. With his fair skin, Anderson might have passed for a white slave owner on his repeated travels into Kentucky, where would purportedly pick up 20 to 30 enslaved persons at a time and whisk them away to freedom, sometimes accompanying them as far as the Coffins’ mansion in Newport.
An anti-slavery mob devastated Madison in 1846, almost drowning an agent of the Underground Railroad, prompting Anderson to flee upriver to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where he eventually settled.
8. Thaddeus Stevens
River Jordan was the name given to the Ohio River by abolitionists because it marked the border between slave and free states and represented the border between slave and free states. The Underground Railroad cell established at Madison, Indiana, by blacksmith Elijah Anderson and several other members of the town’s Black middle class, served as a particularly appealing crossing point for enslaved persons on the run during the Civil War. With his fair skin, Anderson might have passed for a white slave owner on his repeated travels into Kentucky, where he reportedly picked up 20 to 30 enslaved persons at a time and whisked them away to freedom, sometimes accompanying them as far as the Coffins’ mansion in Newport, Kentucky.
Anderson escaped upriver to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, after being attacked by a mob of pro-slavery whites in Madison in 1846, almost drowning an Underground Railroad agent.
Anderson was found dead in his cell in 1861, on what some sources claim was the exact day of his parole, according to other accounts.
The Underground Railroad was a clandestine network of abolitionists that operated between 1861 and 1865. (people who wanted to abolish slavery). In order to get away from enslavement in the American South, they assisted African Americans in escaping to free northern states or Canada. The Underground Railroad was the most important anti-slavery emancipation movement in North America at the time of its founding. It was responsible for transporting between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (nowCanada).
Please check The Underground Railroad for a plain English explanation of the subject matter (Plain-Language Summary).
(people who wanted to abolish slavery).
The Underground Railroad was the most important anti-slavery emancipation movement in North America at the time of its founding.
It was responsible for transporting between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada). This is the full-length entry on the Underground Railroad that can be found here. Please check The Underground Railroad for a plain English overview of the story (Plain-Language Summary).
When the 1793 Act to Limit Slavery was passed, a clause specified that any enslaved person who made it to Upper Canada would be declared free upon arrival. In response to this, a limited number of enslaved African Americans in quest of freedom were urged to enter Canada, mostly on their own. During and after the War of 1812, word traveled even further that independence was possible in Canada. The enslaved slaves of US military commanders in the South carried news back to the North that there were free “Black men in red coats” in British North America, which was confirmed by the British.
It gave slavecatchers the authority to track down fugitives in northern states.
This underground network of abolitionists was established in the early nineteenth century, with the majority of its members being based in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Within a few decades, it had developed into a well-organized and vibrant network of organizations. The phrase “Underground Railroad” first appeared in the 1830s and has been in use ever since. It had already begun to take shape at that point, an informal covert network to assist escaping slaves. The Underground Railroad was not a real train, and it did not operate on actual railroad rails like other railroads.
abolitionists who were devoted to human rights and equality were responsible for keeping the network running.
Its members comprised free Blacks, fellow enslaved individuals, White and Indigenous supporters, Quakers, Methodists, and Baptists, residents of urban centers and farmers, men and women, from all over the world (including the United States and Canada).
Symbols and Codes
In order to conceal the clandestine actions of the network, railroad language and symbols were employed. This also assisted in keeping the general public and slaveholders in the dark. Escaped slaves were referred to as “conductors” by those who assisted them on their voyage. It was their job to guide fugitives via the Underground Railroad’s routes, which included numerous kinds of transit on land and sea. Harriet Tubman was one of the most well-known conductors in history. The names “passengers,” “cargo,” “package,” and “freight” all referred to fugitive slaves on their way to freedom.
Terminals, which were stations located in numerous cities and towns, were referred to as “terminals.” Occasionally, lighted candles in windows or strategically positioned lanterns in the front yard may be used to identify these ephemeral havens of safety.
“Station masters” were in charge of running the safe houses. They welcomed fugitives into their house and gave them with meals, a change of clothing, and a safe haven to rest and hide from the authorities. Prior to delivering them to the next transfer location, they would frequently give them money. WilliamStill, a black abolitionist who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was in command of a station there. He accompanied a large number of freedom seekers on their way to Canada. He kept a list of the men, women, and children that came to his station, including Tubman and her passengers, and he transcribed their names.
- He was the owner and operator of a radio station in Syracuse, New York.
- Catharines, both in Upper Canada, from 1837 until 1841, when he decided to permanently move there.
- A large number of women worked as station masters as well.
- A large number of other women worked alongside their spouses to own radio stations.
“Ticket agents” assisted freedom-seekers in coordinating safe excursions and making travel arrangements by putting them in touch with station masters or conductors, among other things. It was not uncommon for ticket agents to be people who traveled for a living, such as circuit preachers or physicians, to work. They were able to hide their abolitionist operations as a result of this. Among those who served on the Underground Railroad were doctors such as Alexander Milton Ross (born in Belleville).
He also gave them with a few basic items so that they could get started on their escape.
Ways to the Promised Land
“Lines” were the names given to the pathways that people took in order to reach freedom. In total, 14 northern states and two British North American colonies — Upper Canada and Lower Canada — were connected by the network of roads. At the end of the line lay “heaven,” also known as “the Promised Land,” which was undeveloped land in Canada or the Northern United States. A nod to the Big Dipper constellation, which points to the North Star and serves as a navigational aid for freedom-seekers seeking their way north, “the drinking gourd” was a reference to the Big Dipper.
A large number of people undertook the perilous journey on foot.
The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, did not simply operate on land. Additionally, passengers traveled by boat through lakes, oceans, and rivers. They traveled at night and slept throughout the day on a regular basis.
The Canadian Terminus
During the last decades of enslavement in the United States, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 freedom seekers crossed the border into Canada. Approximately 15,000 to 20,000 fugitives entered the Province of Canada between 1850 and 1860 alone. Because of this, it became the primary terminal for the Underground Railroad. The immigrants settled in various sections of what is now the province of Ontario. Among these were Niagara Falls, Buxton, Chatham, Owen Sound, Windsor, Sandwich (now a part of Windsor), Hamilton, Brantford, London, Oakville, and Toronto.
- Following this huge migration, Black Canadians assisted in the creation of strong communities and made significant contributions to the development of the provinces in where they lived and worked.
- The Provincial Freeman newspaper published a thorough report of a specific case in its publication.
- They were on the lookout for a young man by the name of Joseph Alexander.
- Alexandra was present among the throngs of people and had a brief verbal encounter with his previous owner.
- The guys were forced to flee town after the mob refused to allow them to steal Alexander’s possessions.
The Underground Railroad functioned until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited slavery, was ratified in 1865. Freedom-seekers, free Blacks, and descendants of Black Loyalists settled throughout British North America during the American Revolutionary War. It is possible that some of them resided in all-Black colonies, such as the Elgin Settlement and the Buxton Mission in Ontario, the Queen’s Bush Settlement and the DawnSettlement near Dresden in Ontario, as well as Birchtown and Africaville in Nova Scotia, although this is not certain.
Early African Canadian settlers were hardworking and forward-thinking members of society.
Religious, educational, social, and cultural institutions, political groupings, and community-building organizations were all founded by black people in the United States.
(See, for example, Mary Ann Shadd.) African-American men and women held and contributed to a diverse variety of skills and abilities during the time period of the Underground Railroad.
They also owned and operated saw companies, frozen food distributors, livery stables, pharmacies, herbal treatment services and carpentry firms.
Black people took an active role in the struggle for racial equality.
In their communities, they waged war on the prejudice and discrimination they met in their daily lives in Canada by getting meaningful jobs, securing homes, and ensuring that their children received an education.
Many people were refused the right to dwell in particular neighborhoods because of their color.
Through publications, conferences, and other public activities, such as Emancipation Day celebrations, Black groups expressed their opposition to racial prejudice and worked to make society a better place for everyone.
Beginning with their search for independence, security, wealth, and human rights, early Black colonists worked to create a better life for themselves, their descendents, and their fellow citizens in the United States.
In addition, see: Underground Railroad (Plain Language Summary); Black Enslavement in Canada (Plain Language Summary); Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada; Anti-slavery Society of Canada; Josiah Henson; Albert Jackson; Richard Pierpoint; and Editorial: Black Female Freedom Fighters (in English and French).