Guides were known as “conductors” Hiding places were “stations” or “way stations” “Station masters” hid escaping slaves in their homes. People escaping slavery were referred to as “passengers” or “cargo”
Who guided the Underground Railroad?
Recording the personal histories of his visitors, Still eventually published a book that provided great insight into how the Underground Railroad operated. One arrival to his office turned out to be his long-lost brother, who had spent decades in bondage in the Deep South.
What was used as a guide on the Underground Railroad trip?
The code words often used on the Underground Railroad were: “tracks” (routes fixed by abolitionist sympathizers); “stations” or “depots” (hiding places); “conductors ” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “agents” (sympathizers who helped the slaves connect to the Railroad); “station masters” (those who hid slaves in
Who were the station masters on the Underground Railroad?
Some, like Harriet Tubman, were “conductors,” who led the rescue missions, while others— John Brown, for example—were “station masters,” hosting fugitives in their homes and arranging safe passage to freedom. Here are nine other valorous heroes who risked life and limb to help people on their way to liberty.
What was a codename for the stops along the Underground Railroad?
in 1967, he mentioned that African-Americans in slavery often called Canada “Heaven.” It was a code name used by people who were part of the Underground Railroad.
What did Frederick Douglass do?
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who became a prominent activist, author and public speaker. He became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of slavery, before and during 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.
What were conductors on the Underground Railroad?
Underground Railroad conductors were free individuals who helped fugitive slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad. Conductors helped runaway slaves by providing them with safe passage to and from stations. If a conductor was caught helping free slaves they would be fined, imprisoned, branded, or even hanged.
What were some signals on the Underground Railroad?
Certain Songs were sung as symbols of Underground Railway members. “All Clear” was conveyed in safe houses using a lighted lantern in a certain place as this symbol. Knocks on doors used a coded series of taps as symbols of identity. Certain items, such as a quilt, were hung on a clothesline.
Why did Harriet Tubman wear a bandana?
As was the custom on all plantations, when she turned eleven, she started wearing a bright cotton bandana around her head indicating she was no longer a child. She was also no longer known by her “basket name”, Araminta. Now she would be called Harriet, after her mother.
What does Station Master mean?
Definition of stationmaster: an official in charge of the operation of a railroad station.
What’s Harriet Tubman’s real name?
The person we know as “Harriet Tubman” endured decades in bondage before becoming Harriet Tubman. Tubman was born under the name Araminta Ross sometime around 1820 (the exact date is unknown); her mother nicknamed her Minty.
What does the code word liberty lines mean?
Other code words for slaves included “freight,” “passengers,” “parcels,” and “bundles.” Liberty Lines – The routes followed by slaves to freedom were called “liberty lines” or “freedom trails.” Routes were kept secret and seldom discussed by slaves even after their escape.
Why are the trees painted white in Underground Railroad?
Trees painted white protects them from sun damage Paint can also be used to protect exposed tree trunks in cases where the bark has been damaged, this method protects the fragile trunk against pests and further damage until the bark has recovered.
Underground Railroad Terminology
Written by Dr. Bryan Walls As a descendant of slaves who traveled the Underground Railroad, I grew up enthralled by the stories my family’s “Griot” told me about his ancestors. It was my Aunt Stella who was known as the “Griot,” which is an African name that means “keeper of the oral history,” since she was the storyteller of our family. Despite the fact that she died in 1986 at the age of 102, her mind remained keen till the very end of her life. During a conversation with my Aunt Stella, she informed me that John Freeman Walls was born in 1813 in Rockingham County, North Carolina and journeyed on the Underground Railroad to Maidstone, Ontario in 1846.
Many historians believe that the Underground Railroad was the first big liberation movement in the Americas, and that it was the first time that people of many races and faiths came together in peace to fight for freedom and justice in the United States.
Escaped slaves, as well as those who supported them, need rapid thinking as well as a wealth of insight and information.
The Underground Railroad Freedom Movement reached its zenith between 1820 and 1865, when it was at its most active.
- A Kentucky fugitive slave by the name of Tice Davids allegedly swam across the Ohio River as slave catchers, including his former owner, were close on his trail, according to legend.
- He was most likely assisted by nice individuals who were opposed to slavery and wanted the practice to be abolished.
- “He must have gotten away and joined the underground railroad,” the enraged slave owner was overheard saying.
- As a result, railroad jargon was employed in order to maintain secrecy and confound the slave hunters.
- In this way, escaping slaves would go through the forests at night and hide during the daytime hours.
- In order to satiate their hunger for freedom and proceed along the treacherous Underground Railroad to the heaven they sung about in their songs—namely, the northern United States and Canada—they took this risky route across the wilderness.
- Despite the fact that they were not permitted to receive an education, the slaves were clever folks.
Freedom seekers may use maps created by former slaves, White abolitionists, and free Blacks to find their way about when traveling was possible during the day time.
The paths were frequently not in straight lines; instead, they zigzagged across wide places in order to vary their smell and confuse the bloodhounds on the trail.
The slaves could not transport a large amount of goods since doing so would cause them to become sluggish.
Enslaved people traveled the Underground Railroad and relied on the plant life they encountered for sustenance and medical treatment.
The enslaved discovered that Echinacea strengthens the immune system, mint relieves indigestion, roots can be used to make tea, and plants can be used to make poultices even in the winter when they are dormant, among other things.
After all, despite what their owners may have told them, the Detroit River is not 5,000 miles wide, and the crows in Canada will not peck their eyes out.
Hopefully, for the sake of the Freedom Seeker, these words would be replaced by lyrics from the “Song of the Fugitive: The Great Escape.” The brutal wrongs of slavery I can no longer tolerate; my heart is broken within me, for as long as I remain a slave, I am determined to strike a blow for freedom or the tomb.” I am now embarking for yonder beach, beautiful land of liberty; our ship will soon get me to the other side, and I will then be liberated.
No more will I be terrified of the auctioneer, nor will I be terrified of the Master’s frowns; no longer will I quiver at the sound of the dogs baying.
All of the brave individuals who were participating in the Underground Railroad Freedom Movement had to acquire new jargon and codes in order to survive. To go to the Promised Land, one needed to have a high level of ability and knowledge.
Dr. Bryan Walls’s contribution My family’s “Griot” (grandfather) told me stories of his ancestors who were slaves on the Underground Railroad, and I grew up interested by what he had to say. It was my Aunt Stella who was known as the “Griot,” which is an African name that means “keeper of the oral history,” since she was the family storyteller. Despite the fact that she died in 1986 at the age of 102, her mind remained keen till the very end of her existence. Aunt Stella told me that John Freeman Walls was born in 1813 in Rockingham County, North Carolina, and that he moved to Maidstone, Ontario, Canada, in 1846, via the Underground Railroad.
People of all races and faiths came together in harmony to fight for freedom and justice along the Underground Railroad, which is widely regarded as the first great freedom movement in the Americas and the first instance in which people of different races and faiths came together to fight for freedom and justice.
- People who helped escaped slaves needed to be nimble with their thoughts and possess a lot of insight and information.
- The Underground Railroad Freedom Movement reached its zenith between 1820 and 1865, when it had its greatest popularity.
- Tice managed to evade capture after they crossed the border near the town of Ripley, Ohio (which was a busy “stop” on the Underground Railroad).
- “Abolitionists” were those who supported freedom and opposed slavery.
- Secrets were essential since slaves and anybody who assisted them in their escape from slavery faced heavy consequences.
The following code words were frequently used on the Underground Railroad: “tracks” (routes fixed by abolitionist sympathizers); “stations” or “depots” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “agents” (sympathizers who assisted slaves in connecting to the Railroad); “station masters” (those who hid slaves in their homes); “passengers,” “cargo,” “fleece,” Even though the constellations sometimes fluctuate, the North Star stays constant in the night sky, according to millennia of African wisdom passed down through generations.
- This led to the escapees running through the woods at night and hiding during the day.
- In order to fulfill their thirst for freedom and proceed along the treacherous Underground Railroad to the heaven they sung about in their songs—namely, the northern United States and Canada—they took this risky route through the forest.
- They were brilliant folks, despite the fact that they were not permitted to receive an education while under slavery.
- Maps created by former slaves, White abolitionists, and free Blacks would aid the freedom seekers with instructions and geographical markers when traveling was possible during the day.
- The paths were not always in straight lines; they frequently zigzagged across wide regions in order to change their smell and confuse the bloodhounds tracking them.
- In order to keep their speed as high as possible, the captives could not carry a large amount of supplies.
- Slaves relied on local plant life for sustenance and medical treatment while traveling the Underground Railroad route.
- The enslaved discovered that Echinacea strengthens the immune system, mint relieves indigestion, roots can be used to make tea, and plants can be used to make poultices even in the winter when they are dormant, all of which were previously unknown.
- They would discover that, contrary to what their owners may have told them, the Detroit River was not 5,000 miles wide and that the crows in Canada would not peck their eyes out.
- It is hoped that these lyrics would give birth to lyrics from the “Song of the Fugitive: The Freedom Seeker,” which would be beneficial to him.
- The auctioneer will no longer be a source of dread, and the Master’s frowns will no longer make me shudder at the sound of hounds barking.
All of the brave individuals who were participating in the Underground Railroad Freedom Movement had to acquire new jargon and ciphers in order to communicate. To get to the Promised Land, it took a tremendous deal of talent and expertise.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Finally, they were able to make their way closer to him. Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad?
‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented. The New Yorker is a publication dedicated to journalism.
OurStory : Activities : Slave Live and the Underground Railroad : More Information
The Underground Railroad’s historical context Harriet Tubman was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. The Library of Congress has provided permission to use this image. During the 1800s, nearly one hundred thousand slaves attempted to gain their freedom by fleeing their masters’ possessions. These courageous Black Americans walked north toward free states and Canada via hidden routes known as the Underground Railroad, or south into Mexico on routes known as the Underground Railroad. Through their assistance to the runaways, free Blacks, Whites, Native Americans, and former slaves served as “conductors.” The vast majority of those who contributed were everyday individuals, such as storekeepers, housewives, carpenters, clergy, farmers, and educators.
- Others, referred to as “agents,” sought to liberate the slaves by providing them with new clothing, collecting money for food and medication, training them to read and write, and giving lectures to persuade others that slavery was immoral.
- A slave grinding grain with a mortar and pestle.
- Smithsonian Institution |
- View a bigger version Passengers were the term used to refer to slaves who traveled on the Underground Railroad.
- A group of volunteers called “agents” tried to free the slaves by providing them with new clothes, collecting money for food and medication, training them to read and write, and giving lectures to persuade people that slavery was immoral.
- Everyone who took part in the Underground Railroad shown incredible bravery.
- The people who assisted slaves were likewise in grave risk, yet they persisted in their efforts because they regarded slavery to be unconstitutional.
- With Minty, a novel created by Alan Schroeder, you may learn more about Harriet Tubman when she was a tiny girl who dreamed of independence.
As part of the Underground Railroad, which was established in 1834 by the National Antislavery Society and involved the united efforts of both white and black abolitionists, around 100,000 enslaved people were assisted in their journey to freedom. The Underground Railroad was officially established in 1838, with African abolitionist Robert Purvis serving as its first director. Numerous slaves staged spontaneous escapes from the Confederate South under the instruction of the railroad’s “agents,” while others employed highly structured procedures to get out from the Confederate South.
- It encompassed 29 states as well as Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, among other countries.
- A possible 100,000 enslaved people may have escaped utilizing this network of aid and support in the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War, according to some estimates, during this period.
- When it came to individuals committed to make the railroad function, rescues of apprehended fugitives from prisons in the North were commonplace.
- The slaves’ desires and passions were on their side, and there was nothing a slaver could do to stop them.
- Prior to the construction of the railroad On at least one occasion during their lifetimes, the majority of African-American slaves resisted being sold into slavery.
- They resisted the terrible institution of slavery using whatever measures were available to them at the time.
- It was also usual for owned folks to seek to flee their homes.
- They were known as maroons, and they developed their own hidden societies across Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp, and even as far south as the Florida Everglades, where they lived among the Seminole Indians, according to legend.
- “Turner’s Rebellion,” a massive insurrection that took place in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831, was one of the most notable.
- In revenge, a large number of white people massacred not just the perpetrators (including Turner), but also hundreds of innocent black people.
Freedom seekers traveling along one of Tubman’s railways were given directions such as: “Follow the North Star,” “Travel under the cover of Mother Nature,” and “Approach homes with lights on hitching posts along the way to discover safe houses for food and shelter.” It has been said that other heroic railroad agents like as William Still, David Ruggles, Calvin Fairbank, Josiah Henson, and Erastus Hussey were responsible for assisting thousands of slaves make their journeys to freedom.
- Those guys, on the other hand, were only a handful of the estimated hundreds of people that helped to the endeavor.
- The Underground Railroad was home to Thomas Garrett, a long-time companion of Tubman’s who toiled on the Underground Railroad for over 40 years.
- The Travel Routes Numerous slaves managed to elude capture in the South and subsequently make their way to the United States’ western regions, Mexico, the Caribbean, and even Europe.
- The vast majority, on the other hand, embarked on courageous journeys north via various routes of the Underground Railroad in search of a better life in various areas of Canada, often seeking sanctuary with members of religious organizations such as Quakers, Methodists, and Baptists.
- Although there were no physical trains on the Underground Railroad, guides like as Tubman were referred to as “conductors,” and the hiding locations where they took refuge were referred to as “depots” or “stations.” One of those stations was located in Alliance, Ohio.
- Most refugees traveled at night on foot, guided by the stars and sometimes singing traditional songs such as Follow the Drinking Gourd.
- Those that escaped with their families were frequently isolated from one another.
Getting out of the South and into the Union states did not guarantee that life would be safe.
Owners kept their slaves uneducated and completely ignorant of geography in order to decrease the number of escape slaves.
For example, the following song is a sample of one of the numerous songs that evacuees utilized as navigational aids on their journey to freedom: When the light returns and the first quail calls, follow the drinking gourd to where it leads to the water.
You can go along the riverbed with your left foot, peg foot, and drinking gourd in tow.
Follow the drinking gourd till the river comes to an end between two hills.
Follow the drinking gourd to the point where the huge large river joins the tiny river.
It was under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that slave owners were granted the authority to recapture and extradite runaway slaves with the help of federal marshals.
In the end, the re-enslavement act reintroduced the reality of slavery to a Union that was meant to be against it, which was a bad outcome for the northern states.
The vast majority of runaways during this time period who were able to escape the Fugitive Slave Law were able to find refuge in other nations.
By the end of the Civil War in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment had become a reality, thereby ending slavery for good.
When the National Park Service was established in 1990, it was charged with researching the best ways to interpret and memorialize the Underground Railroad, with a particular emphasis on the approximate routes used by slaves fleeing to freedom before the Civil War.
Today, more than 400 historical markers and monuments commemorate the Underground Railroad’s presence in 29 states that were previously a member of the network.
They are those who desire harvests without plowing the field and rain without thunder and lightning, yet who pretend to be in favor of freedom while decrying agitation in the name of it.
They desire the ocean without the deafening thunder of the ocean’s numerous abysses.” Frederick Douglass was a famous American author and activist.
Underground Railroad, The (1820-1861)
Smuggled fugitives through the Underground Railroad during the winter seasonThe Underground Railroad was constructed to help enslaved persons in their escape to freedom. The railroad network was made up of dozens of hidden routes and safe houses that began in slaveholding states and extended all the way to the Canadian border, which was the only place where fugitives could be certain of their freedom. From Florida to Cuba, or from Texas to Mexico, there were shorter routes that took you south.
The Underground Railroad’s success was dependent on the collaboration of previous runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who assisted in guiding runaway slaves along the routes and providing their houses as safe havens for the fugitive slave population.
- The Underground Railroad in the Nineteenth Century New York Public Library’s Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, part of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, provided this photograph.
- The railroad employed conductors, among them William Still of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was likely the most well-known of the group.
- Slave-hiding spots were called stations, and stationmasters were individuals who hid slaves in their houses.
- The Underground Railroad functioned as a number of interconnected networks.
- Those responsible for leading the fugitive slaves north did so in stages.
- The “freight” would be transferred on to the next conductor once it reached another stop, and so on until the full journey had been completed.
- When the Underground Railroad was successful, it engendered a great deal of hostility among slaveholders and their friends.
The law was misused to a tremendous extent.
Due to the fact that African Americans were not permitted to testify or have a jury present during a trial, they were frequently unable to defend themselves.
Ironically, the Fugitive Slave Act fueled Northern opposition to slavery and contributed to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
A large number of those who escaped became human witnesses to the slave system, with many of them traveling on the lecture circuit to explain to Northerners what life was like as a slave in the slave system.
It was the success of the Underground Railroad in both situations that contributed to the abolition of slavery.
Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2006); David W.
Instructions for Citing This Article (in APA Format): Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (n.d.). The Underground Railroad was in operation from 1820 until 1861). Project on the History of Social Welfare. It was retrieved from
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad: how one woman saved hundreds from hell
She had managed to get away from hell. Slavery in the United States was a hellish experience characterised by bondage, racist treatment, terrorism, degrading conditions, backbreaking labor, beatings, and whippings. Harriet Tubman escaped from her Maryland farm and walked over 90 miles by herself to reach the free state of Pennsylvania, where she died in 1865. In order to make the perilous voyage, she had to go at night through woods and through streams, with little food, and dreading anybody who would gladly give her back to her masters in order to receive a reward.
Her 1849 escape from slavery was described as follows: “When I realized I had crossed the border, I glanced at my hands to check if I was the same person.” “There was such a radiance in everything.” I had the feeling that I was in heaven as the sun filtered through the trees and over the meadows.” Tubman was transferred to a region where she could live somewhat free of bondage thanks to the Underground Railroad; but, while others endured cruelty and misery, she would risk her life as the network’s most renowned conductor.
Tubman made it out of hell just to turn around and walk right back into it.
When and where was Harriet Tubman born?
Araminta Ross, Tubman’s given name, would have been put to work on her family’s plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland, practically as soon as she began to walk, according to family legend. It was the same terrible initiation to slavery that she and her eight siblings endured when they were born into it. Her rigorous outdoor job, along with long hours of domestic employment as a maid and then as a cook, resulted in her being underweight and unwell at times. The little Minty, like millions of other slaves in America, became all-too familiar with the awful physical and mental torture she suffered at the hands of her owners.
- I recommend you listen to 8 audio episodes about slavery and the slave trade right now:
Minty’s harsh upbringing resulted in a fervent Christian faith, which she developed as a result of hearing Bible tales read to her by her mother, as well as extraordinary strength, courage, and a desire to put herself in danger in order to save others. These characteristics helped her so effectively in the Underground Railroad, yet they almost resulted in her death when she was a little girl. Once, as Minty was on her way to get supplies from a dry goods store, she found herself stuck between an overseer who was looking for a slave who had fled his property without permission and the slave’s pursuing master.
What was the Underground Railroad?
The term does not allude to genuine trains that went up and down the length of America in tunnels (at least not in the early nineteenth century), but rather to a system of clandestine routes that were designed to assist runaway slaves in reaching the free states of the North or Canada. In order to escape discovery, guides guided them down the circuitous routes, which frequently required trudging into the woods, crossing rivers, and climbing mountains to reach their destination. Although it was not always the case, a route may have involved conveyance, such as boats or carts.
- It was all done in secret, thus the term “underground,” and it made use of jargon from the booming railway industry.
- It was common for those participating – which included everyone from runaway slaves to rich white abolitionists and church officials – to congregate in small groups.
- ‘vigilance committees’ formed established in the bigger cities of the North, such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, to support the railroad.
- It struck Minty in the head, knocking her out cold and leaving her in a pool of blood.
- These remained constant throughout her life (although she claimed them to be premonitions from God).
- There was no reprieve from the horrendous conditions as the years passed, yet all of Minty’s hours of hard labor had given her a surprising amount of strength for her small five-foot body.
Despite the fact that she became Harriet Tubman in approximately 1844 – after marrying a free black man called John Tubman and choosing to use her mother’s first name – it would be another five years before she made her first steps toward freedom.
How did Harriet Tubman escape from slavery?
There were no genuine trains running up and down the length of America in tunnels (at least not in the early nineteenth century), but rather a network of secret passageways designed to assist runaway slaves in reaching the free states of the North or Canada. In order to escape discovery, guides guided them down the circuitous paths, which frequently required trudging through the woods, crossing rivers, and climbing mountains to reach their location. Occasionally, though, a route includes conveyance, such as boats or wagons, in addition to the route itself.
- Because it was being kept under wraps, it was referred to as “underground,” and it made use of jargon from the expanding railway industry.
- It was common for those engaged — who varied from runaway slaves to rich white abolitionists and church officials – to congregate in smaller groups.
- Vigilance committees sprung formed in the bigger northern cities, such as New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, to assist the railroad’s efforts.
- Not only did she deny instructions to assist in restraining the runaway, but she also stood in the way of the white guy, leading him to hurl a large weight out of rage at her.
- Minty suffered from seizures, abrupt sleeping periods comparable to narcolepsy, and strong religious visions as a result of the lack of medical care available to a harmed slave.
- Through her whole life, she exhibited these characteristics: (although she claimed them to be premonitions from God).
- There was no reprieve from the horrendous conditions as the years passed, however all of Minty’s hours of hard work had made her unusually powerful for her little five-foot stature.
Despite the fact that she became Harriet Tubman in approximately 1844 – after marrying a free black man called John Tubman and deciding to use her mother’s maiden name – it was another five years before she made her first steps toward freedom.
An advertising for the ‘Liberty Line’ in 1844, which was a thinly veiled allusion to the Underground Railroad, and which promised “seats free, regardless of race,” is seen below. (Image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum/Getty Images.) ) Due to the fact that being a conductor required Tubman to go across slavery zone where she could be seized by armed slave hunters, she knowingly and intentionally put her life in danger on a regular basis. It only grew more perilous after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, which made it possible for runaway slaves to be apprehended in the North and returned to their original owners.
As a result, Tubman had to find a way to get to Canada, which was under British control.
When Tubman was a conductor, her colleague William Still remarked, “Great anxieties were expressed for her safety, yet she appeared to be completely devoid of personal dread.” With her success in exploiting and growing the network to transport escaped slaves to safety, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison dubbed Tubman the ‘Moses of her people’ for her efforts.
- She would frequently travel during the winter, when the nights were longer, and would leave with her ‘passengers’ on a Saturday evening – since runaway notices would not appear in newspapers until the following Monday – in order to avoid being discovered.
- “Either you’ll be free or you’ll die,” she declared emphatically.
- ‘General Tubman’ was contacted before to his failed 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry in the hopes of igniting a slave insurrection, and it is said that he wanted her to take part in the attack as a member of the armed forces.
- Seward was so impressed with Tubman’s work that she purchased a small plot of land near Auburn, New York – where she lived with her elderly parents, whom she had rescued during one of her final journeys – from her friend and admirer.
- In connection with the Underground Railroad, there is a widespread idea that songs had hidden messages in the lyrics that either assisted slaves in finding their path to freedom or served as a warning.
- “Go Down Moses” and “Bound for the Promised Land” are two songs that Harriet Tubman is said to have used on the Underground Railroad, according to Sarah Hopkins Bradford’s biography of the pioneering abolitionist.
- Some historians, on the other hand, are skeptical of the notion that songs included codes, claiming that there is no concrete proof from the historical period and that the myth really dates back to the twentieth century rather than the nineteenth.
- The reality has remained a mystery, which is exacerbated by the fact that comprehensive records of slaves’ lives in America are extremely few.
They gave people hope when there seemed to be none, and they gave them a sense of belonging when everyone sang together.
Harriet Tubman and the American Civil War
On the Underground Railroad, did coded music aid those attempting to elude slavery? In connection with the Underground Railroad, there is a widespread idea that songs had hidden messages in the lyrics that either assisted slaves in finding their way to freedom or served as a warning to other slaves. To summarize: The expression “follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” actually refers to the North Star, “Wade in the Water” is an instruction to hide, and the phrase “I am bound for Canaan” could be used by a slave to announce his or her intention to flee and seek refuge in Canada, which would serve as their Canaan in the process.
Nevertheless, other historians are skeptical of the notion that songs included codes, claiming that there is no concrete evidence from the historical period and that the myth actually dates back to the twentieth century rather than the nineteenth.
Although the truth has yet to be revealed, the fact that comprehensive records of slaves’ lives in America are few does not assist the situation.
Whenever they sang together, they brought a sense of togetherness to those who had previously felt alone.
What were Harriet Tubman’s actions during the American Civil War?
Sophie Beale, a journalist, investigates. The first bullets of the American Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861, in the state of Virginia. Tubman had a large number of abolitionist admirers by this time, and Massachusetts governor John Andrew funded her to travel to Port Royal, South Carolina, which had recently been liberated from the Confederates by Union forces. Her first assignment after the onset of war was as a volunteer with Union troops stationed near Fort Munroe in Virginia. Harriet worked wherever she was needed: nursing those suffering from disease, which was common in the hot climate; coordinating the distribution of charitable aid to the thousands of ex-slaves who lived behind union lines; and supervising the construction of a laundry house, where she taught women how to earn money by washing clothes for others.
Hunter delegated power to Tubman to assemble a group of scouts who would enter and survey the interior of the country.
This persuaded Union leaders of the value of guerrilla operations, which led to the infamous Combahee River Raid, in which Tubman served as scout and adviser to Colonel Montgomery, commander of the second South Carolina volunteers, one of the new black infantry regiments, during the American Civil War.
- In order to avoid rebel underwater explosives, Tubman escorted them to certain locations along the beach.
- Others seized thousands of dollars’ worth of crops and animals, destroying whatever that was left behind as they did so.
- As soon as everyone had boarded the steamers, they began their journey back up the river, transporting the 756 freshly freed slaves to Port Royal.
- Using the exact people the Confederates wished to keep subdued and enslaved, this well-coordinated invasion had dealt a devastating blow to the Confederates’ cause.
- She received such low salary that she was forced to sustain herself by selling handmade pies, ginger bread, and root beer, and she received no remuneration at all for more than three decades.
- A renowned icon of the anti-slavery movement today, she was the subject of two biographies (written in 1869 and 1866) with the revenues going entirely to assist her pay her debts to the institution of slavery.
- As a result of her lectures in favour of women’s suffrage, she was invited to be the keynote speaker at the first conference of the National Association of Colored Women, which took place in 1896.
- (When she was a conductor, she had returned to save John Tubman, but he had remarried by the time she returned.) Tubman and Davis became the parents of a newborn girl named Gertie, whom they adopted as a couple.
She died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913, in the presence of her family and close friends. Her dying words, spoken as a fervent Christian till the end, were, “I am going to prepare a place for you.”
- When it comes to slavery, Lincoln said, “If I could save the union without liberating a single slave, I would.”
If her deeds and accomplishments aren’t enough of a testament, these final remarks eloquently depict a lady who has dedicated her life to others while seeking no recognition or glory for herself. A lady who rose to prominence in the United States while remaining anonymous. A lady who was able to escape the misery of being a slave and went on to assist others in doing the same has been honored. “Most of what I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been done and suffered in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way,” Frederick Douglass, Tubman’s friend and revered abolitionist, wrote to Tubman about her time as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
“I have worked throughout the day; you have worked during the night.”
Jonny Wilkes is a freelance writer specialising in history
This article was first published in History Revealed in January 2017 and has since been updated.
Underground Railroad – Ohio History Central
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.