If a conductor was caught helping free slaves they would be fined, imprisoned, branded, or even hanged. Harriet Tubman, perhaps the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, helped hundreds of runaway slaves escape to freedom.
What was the punishment for the Underground Railroad?
A severe beating was the most common form of discipline, usually administered with a bull whip or a wooden paddle. The offender would be hung by the hands or staked to the ground and every slave on the plantation would be forced to watch the whipping to deter them from running away.
What were the punishments for helping runaway slaves?
Any person aiding a runaway slave by providing shelter, food or any other form of assistance was liable to six months’ imprisonment and a $500 fine an expensive penalty in those days.
What punishment did slaves receive?
Slaves were punished by whipping, shackling, beating, mutilation, branding, and/or imprisonment. Punishment was most often meted out in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but masters or overseers sometimes abused slaves to assert dominance.
What would happen if slaves tried to escape?
If an enslaved person was caught trying to escape, the punishment could be very severe. Often runaways would be sold “south.” That means that they were sold to someone who lived much further south than Maryland, where it would be harder to run away because the distance to the North was so much greater.
How many slaves were caught on the Underground Railroad?
Estimates vary widely, but at least 30,000 slaves, and potentially more than 100,000, escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
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.
Why was there violence in Kansas in the 1850s?
Sporadic outbursts of violence occurred between pro- and anti-slavery forces in late 1855 and early 1856. Despite the visibility of the violence in Kansas, relatively few of the settlers in the new territory were deeply invested in the conflict over slavery.
What did the slaves eat?
Weekly food rations — usually corn meal, lard, some meat, molasses, peas, greens, and flour — were distributed every Saturday. Vegetable patches or gardens, if permitted by the owner, supplied fresh produce to add to the rations. Morning meals were prepared and consumed at daybreak in the slaves’ cabins.
When was it illegal to teach slaves to read and write?
In April 1831, Virginia declared that any meetings to teach free African Americans to read or write was illegal. New codes also outlawed teaching enslaved people.
The Constitution and the Underground Railroad: How a System of Government Dedicated to Liberty Protected Slavery (U.S. National Park Service)
A new clause for the draft constitution was proposed by Pierce Butler and Charles Pinckney, two South Carolina delegates to the Constitutional Convention that met on August 28, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It had been more than three months since the Convention had started considering the new structure of governance. Throughout the summer, there had been extensive and bitter disputes over the impact of slavery on the new form of government being established. Many safeguards to maintain the system of human bondage had been requested and achieved by Southerners throughout the years.
Unknown artist created this piece.
The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-6088).
The three-fifths provision of the new Constitution included slaves in the calculation of congressional representation, resulting in an increase in the power of slave states in both the House of Representatives and the electoral college as a result.
- Exports were exempt from taxation by Congress and the states, which safeguarded the tobacco and rice farmed by slaves from being taxed.
- The Constitution also stated that the national government would suppress “domestic violence” and “insurrections.” When “fugitive slaves and servants” escaped into neighboring states, Butler and Pinckney asked that they be “given up like criminals,” as they had done in the past.
- The next day, without any further debate or even a formal vote, the Convention passed the Fugitive Slave Clause, which became law in 1850.
- Although the word slave was avoided, it appeared that if a slave managed to flee to a free state, that state would be unable to free that person, and any runaway who was apprehended would be turned over to the person who had claimed ownership of the slave in the first place.
- As a result, the phrasing of the sentence, as well as its structural placement, suggested that this was something that the states would have to figure out amongst themselves.
- Northerners were completely unaware of its capacity to cause harm to their neighbors or to disturb their culture.
During a speech to the South Carolina state assembly, General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (whose younger cousin had submitted the clause) boasted, “We have acquired the right to recapture our slaves in wherever part of America they may seek sanctuary, which is a right we did not have before.” In a similar vein, Edmund Randolph used this phrase to demonstrate that slavery was protected by the Constitution in the Virginia convention.
The author stated that “everyone is aware that slaves are obligated to serve and labor.” Using the Constitution, he contended that “power is granted to slave owners to vindicate their property” since it permitted a Virginian citizen to travel to another state and “take his fugitive slave” and bring “him home.” At the Convention, no one seems to have considered the possibility that the new government might operate as an agent for slaveowners.
- However, only a few years after the Constitution was ratified, the subject of fugitive slaves and the extradition of felons was brought before Congress for consideration.
- However, Virginia’s governor rejected, claiming that the free black had in reality been captured and that thus no crime had been committed.
- As a result, a legislation was passed in 1793 that governed both the return of fugitive felons and the return of runaway slaves.
- Fugitive slave harborers may be fined up to $500 (a large sum of money at the time), and they could also be sued for the value of any slaves that were not recaptured.
- People who did not obey the regulations under these state laws were subject to severe penalties under the law.
- Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that all of these statutes were unconstitutional because, according to the Court, Congress had the only authority to govern the return of fugitive slaves to their homelands.
- Many northern governments responded by passing legislation prohibiting the use of state property (including jails) for the repatriation of runaway slaves, as well as prohibiting state personnel from taking part in fugitive slave cases.
This landmark anti-slavery ruling mobilized the whole federal government in support of attempts to apprehend runaway slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Fugitive slaves would be extremely difficult to repatriate if they did not have the help of the northern states.
Federal commissioners were appointed in every county around the country as part of the new national law enforcement system.
The commissioners were given the authority to utilize state militias, federal marshals, as well as the Army and Navy, to bring fugitive slaves back to their owners.
The punishment for anybody who assists a slave in fleeing might be six months in jail and a fine of up to a whopping thousand dollars.
It also interfered with the right of the northern states to defend their free black inhabitants from being claimed as fugitives by the federal government.
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 had a variety of consequences.
Between 1850 and 1861, approximately 1,000 African-Americans would be deported to the South as a result of this law.
In state legislatures, courtrooms, and on the streets, there was fierce opposition to the bill throughout the northern United States.
“The Oberlin rescuers at Cuyahoga County prison, c.1859,” says the artist.
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue became renowned as a result of this incident.
During this time of year when we commemorate Constitution Day, it is important to remember that this document protected slavery and laid the groundwork for the federal government to hunt down and arrest people whose only crime was the color of their skin and their desire to enjoy “the Blessings of Liberty” that the Constitution claimed it was written to achieve.
In some areas, such as upstate New York and northern Ohio, the 1850 law was virtually unenforceable because the average, usually law-abiding citizens participated in the Underground Railroad, choosing to support human liberty and fundamental justice even when the laws of the United States and the Constitution itself criminalized such activities.
Paul Finkelman, Ph.D. He has written more than 50 books and hundreds of articles, and he is a prolific writer. His most recent book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, was released by Harvard University Press in 2018 and is about slavery in the United States Supreme Court.
A new clause for the draft constitution was proposed by Pierce Butler and Charles Pinckney, two South Carolina delegates to the Constitutional Convention that met on August 28, 1787, in Philadelphia. It had been more than three months since the Convention began considering the new style of governance. There had been extensive and heated arguments during the summer over how slavery would effect the new type of government that was being established. Many safeguards to maintain the system of human bondage had been requested and gained by Southerners.
- Unknown artist has created this piece of art.
- This approach was not extended to any other social or economic organization.
- According to the Constitution, Congress was given the authority to control all foreign trade, with the exception of the African slave trade, which could not be abolished by Congress until at least twenty years after it was established.
- “Domestic Violence” and “Insurrections” were defined as “domestic violence” and “insurrections,” respectively, in the United States Constitution, which for slaveowners meant only one thing: slave revolts.
- It was the next day that the Convention passed the Fugitive Slave Clause, without any further debate or even a formal vote.
- Although the word slave was avoided, it appeared that if a slave managed to flee to a free state, that state would be unable to free that person, and any runaway who was apprehended would be handed over to the person who had claimed ownership of the slave in the first place.
- The phrasing of the sentence, as well as its structural placement, suggested that this was something that the states would have to figure out between them.
- Northerners were completely unaware of its ability to cause harm to their neighbors or to undermine their own social structure.
During a speech to the South Carolina state assembly, General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (whose younger cousin had submitted the clause) boasted, “We have acquired the right to collect our slaves in whatever portion of America they may seek sanctuary, which is a privilege we did not have before.” In a similar vein, Edmund Randolph used this phrase to demonstrate that slavery was protected by the Constitution in the Virginia Convention.
- “Everyone is aware that slaves are obligated to serve and labor,” he explained.
- However, only a few years after the Constitution was ratified, the subject of fugitive slaves and the extradition of felons was brought before Congress for discussion.
- However, Virginia’s governor declined, claiming that the free black had in reality been mistreated and that no crime had been committed as a result of this.
- It was this legislation that resulted in the passage of a statute in 1793 that governed the return of fugitive felons as well as runaway slaves.
- Fugitive slave harborers may be fined up to $500 (a substantial sum of money at the time), and they could also be sued for the value of any slaves that were not captured.
- People who did not obey the regulations under these state laws faced severe penalties under the law.
- Pennsylvania, the United States Supreme Court ruled that all of these statutes were unconstitutional because, according to the Court, Congress had the only authority to govern the return of fugitive slaves to their homelands.
Many northern governments responded by passing legislation prohibiting the use of public property (including jails) for the return of runaway slaves, as well as prohibiting state personnel from taking part in fugitive slave investigations.
Prigg was a landmark anti-slavery ruling that mobilized the whole federal government in support of attempts to apprehend runaway slaves in the South.
Returning fugitive slaves would be extremely difficult without the aid of the northern states.
Federal commissioners were appointed in every county in the country as part of the new national law enforcement system.
Federal marshals, state militias, and the Army and Navy were permitted to assist the commissioners in bringing runaway slaves back to their homelands.
The punishment for anybody who assists a slave in fleeing might be six months in prison and a fine of up to a whopping $1000.
The right of the northern states to safeguard their free black inhabitants from being claimed as fugitives was also infringed upon by this act.
Fugitive Slave Law, 1850, and Its Consequences Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-1286).
In the event that they assisted freedom seekers in their escape through the Underground Railroad, a large number of abolitionists would face fines and imprisonment.
It was only in 1864 that Congress overturned the statute that the deployment of soldiers to execute it was outlawed.
During the 1858 rescue of a freedom seeker called John Price, twenty men were apprehended in Ohio under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law as a result of their cooperation.
Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-73349).
Because of the Constitution and two fugitive slave laws, thousands of northerners, both black and white, surreptitiously assisted in the protection of blacks from slave collectors during the American Civil War.
In these areas, the average, usually law-abiding citizens participated in the Underground Railroad, choosing to support human liberty and fundamental justice even when the laws of the United States and the Constitution themselves prohibited such activities.
Over 50 books and hundreds of articles have been written on him by other authors. Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court was the title of his most recent book, which was released by Harvard University Press in 2018.
How the Underground Railroad Worked
A slave in 1850 didn’t have many options when it came to his or her life. In the alternative, he may choose to remain on his master’s plantation, accepting an existence of hard labor and frequently cruel physical punishment, as well as the possibility of a fractured family, as he saw his loved ones being sold into servitude. Although not all slaves lived in the same way, this was the kind of life he might expect if he remained in bondage. Alternatively, he may flee. Making a break for it was a very dicey possibility.
- Upon being apprehended, not only did the fugitive face virtually certain death, but the rest of the slaves on his property were frequently present when he was executed and were punished as a result of their presence.
- The runaway had to be on his guard at all times since outsiders may recognize him as a slave and give him in, and other slaves could rat him out in order to gain favor with their owners.
- Although he could receive some assistance from strangers along the route, everyone who was friendly to him was also suspicious.
- The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 (which was made even harsher in 1850) provided that if his master could locate him, he could bring his “property” back to the South as a slave – assuming the master didn’t kill him first.
- As a result, the greatest chance a runaway had was to make it to Canada.
- But, if he does make it, he will be free.
- However, according to at least one estimate, more over 100,000 slaves would take their chances to start a new life during the 1800s.
A Ride on the Underground Railroad
Because of the Underground Railroad’s secrecy, it is difficult to determine its exact roots and where it came from. There are several hypotheses as to how it began, but no definitive answers. Its organizers were unable to place “open for business” advertisements in their respective local newspapers. When it comes to chronology, the fact that the real train system wasn’t established until the 1820s provides some clues: if there was an escape mechanism in place before then, it was almost certainly not known as the Underground Railroad.
- During the 1820s, anti-slavery organizations were beginning to take shape, and by the 1840s, there was a well-organized network of people who helped escaped slaves.
- Each voyage was unique, but we’ll concentrate on the period between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s, which was the height of the Underground Railroad.
- Field agents – frequently a traveling clergyman or doctor dressed as salespeople or census takers – were sometimes dispatched by free blacks to establish contact with a slave who want to emancipate himself.
- When the slave first escaped from the plantation, the agent arranged for him to be transferred to a conductor who would take him on his first leg of the voyage.
- Stations were normally spaced separated by a day’s ride on the railroad.
- These dwellings were frequently equipped with secret corridors and compartments for concealing a large number of fugitives.
- Running away in plain clothes (so that the escaped may appear as a traveling worker) was usual, but it wasn’t uncommon for a fugitive to dress as a member of the opposing sexual orientation.
- Siebert’s seminal work, “The Underground Railroad,” as being loaned a white infant as part of her disguise.
- Runaways were seldom on their own when traveling; instead, conductors directed them to the appropriate stops.
- That meant moving at night, following the North Star, and concealing himself in plain sight during the day.
- There are countless accounts of runaways becoming disoriented and traveling for weeks out of their path or accidentally traveling further south.
Furthermore, while clear nights were the greatest for traveling, wet days were also beneficial because less people were out on the streets. So, what happened when a runaway slave eventually made it to the United States’ northernmost territory? Continue reading to find out.
The Fugitive Slave Act
Because of the Underground Railroad’s secrecy, it is difficult to pinpoint its exact roots today. The origins of the outbreak are still up in the air, and no definitive explanation has yet been provided. In their local newspapers, the event’s organizers were unable to place “open for business” advertisements. When it comes to date, the fact that the real train system wasn’t established until the 1820s provides some clues: if there was an escape mechanism in place before then, it was most likely not known as the Underground Railroad.
- As early as the 1820s, anti-slavery organizations were beginning to develop in various cities, and by the 1840s, a well-organized network was in place to assist escaped slaves.
- There were many variations on the Underground Railroad voyage, but we’ll concentrate on the period between 1850 and 1870, when it was at its peak.
- Field agents – frequently a traveling clergyman or doctor dressed as salespeople or census takers – were occasionally dispatched by free blacks to establish contact with a slave who want to emancipate themselves.
- The agent arranged for the slave’s first escape from the plantation and would then pass him over to a conductor for the first leg of his journey away from the plantation.
- In most cases, stations were spaced apart by a day’s voyage.
- For harboring several fugitives, these mansions frequently had secret corridors and chambers.
- Running away in plain clothes (so that the escaped may appear as a traveling laborer) was popular, but it wasn’t unusual for a fugitive to dress as a member of the opposing gender as well.
- Siebert’s seminal work, “The Underground Railroad.” All of these operations were supported by individuals known as shareholders, who frequently provided funds for bribes and other costs.
- Sometimes, though, the escaped slave would be alone due to a shortage of manpower or the duration of the journey.
When clouds hid the view of the stars, Siebert suggests that people may have relied on “homely information” such as “the fact that in woods, the trunks of trees are often covered with moss on their north sides.” Aiming to deceive slave searchers, the Underground Railroad’s branches or “lines” were purposefully complex and zigzagged in order to impede the fugitives’ progress.
On addition, while clear nights were the greatest for traveling, wet days were also beneficial since less people were out in the streets. When an escaped slave eventually made it to the North, what occurred next was a mystery. See what I mean in the next paragraphs!
Life After Escape
In other cases, depending on where the runaway was coming from, the trek to freedom may be completed in as little as 24 hours (on a train from Richmond, Va., to Philadelphia, for instance). It might take several years as well (escaping on foot from the Deep South). But, more importantly, where did the fugitives wind up? The majority of people believe that the Underground Railroad ran from slavery-torn southern states to free states in the north. That is correct, however the vast majority of fugitives fled to Canada, where they would be protected from prosecution under the Fugitive Slave Act.
- Slaves were also able to flee to Spanish-controlled Mexico and Florida from the Deep South, where the voyage north was all the more perilous because of the terrain.
- There, he would frequently have to wait until someone could obtain safe passage for him on a northern boat or train – a situation in which bribes were frequently used to achieve safe passage.
- However, they were more likely to carry on to Canada.
- However, the act also strengthened Northern abolitionists, who could now argue that the South was forcing slavery on the North as a result of the act.
- Once runaways arrived at their location, interracial organizations called asvigilance committees would aid them in creating a new life in their new environment.
- Successful runaways would occasionally attempt to repurchase enslaved family members, which was a risky strategy because it may potentially reveal their current whereabouts.
- Who were they, and how did they manage to collaborate in such a well guarded network?
How did people get involved with the Underground Railroad?
The fugitive’s trip to freedom may take as short as 24 hours, depending on where he or she was traveling from (on a train from Richmond, Va., to Philadelphia, for instance). Moreover, it might take years to complete (escaping on foot from the Deep South). How did the fugitives manage to get away? The majority of people believe that the Underground Railroad ran from slavery-torn southern states to free states in the northern United States and Canada. The bulk of fugitives made their way to Canada, where they would be protected from prosecution under the Fugitive Slave Act.
- Slaves were also able to flee to Spanish-controlled Mexico and Florida from the Deep South, where the voyage north was far more perilous.
- When he arrived, he would frequently be required to wait until someone could obtain safe passage for him on a northern boat or train – this was frequently accomplished via the use of bribes.
- However, they were more likely to travel on to Canada.
- Abolitionists in the North, however, were empowered by the legislation, since they could now argue that the South was forcing slavery on them.
- Once runaways arrived at their location, they would be assisted in building a new life by interracial organizations called asvigilance committees.
- It was common for successful runaways to attempt to purchase the freedom of enslaved family members, which was risky because it may potentially reveal their exact location.
A large number of individuals were required to labour to keep the Underground Railroad running. What were their identities, and how did they collaborate in such a well guarded network?
Underground Railroad Workers
It is estimated that there were around 3,200 “underground employees,” over half of whom were located in the state of Ohio. However, because to the importance placed on secrecy, there was no official or written organization in place. Individual performance and overall reputation were used to select who would be the next leader. The majority of the people who were participating in the Underground Railroad have been lost to history, and their experiences have gone unsung for many generations. And, as a result of the scarcity of written records, the anecdotes that have survived are primarily found as footnotes in history textbooks.
- Harriet Tubman was the most well-known Underground Railroad conductor, and she was dubbed “the Moses of her people” because of her achievements.
- When she went to the South for the first time to assist family members in escaping, she learned that her liberated husband had chosen a new wife and was hesitant to accompany them.
- Bordewich, this tragedy hardened her, which may explain why Tubman would not accept runaways who were terrified or distressed.
- While making the perilous voyage 13 more times and personally guiding at least 70 slaves to freedom in New York and Canada, Tubman’s lack of emotion helped keep her alive.
How many slaves escaped using the Underground Railroad?
It’s difficult to estimate how many slaves were able to escape through the Underground Railroad system in total. According to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Web site in Cincinnati, Ohio, “it is believed that more than 100,000 enslaved persons sought freedom through the Underground Railroad throughout the nineteenth century.” During the mid-1800s, according to author James M. McPherson’s book “Battle Cry of Freedom,” several hundred slaves escaped per year. However, according to the National Park Service’s Web site, between 1820 and 1860, “the most frequent calculation is that around one thousand per year actually escaped.” Similarly, according to an article in the Journal of Black Studies, only approximately 2,000 people managed to escape slavery between 1830 and 1860 through the use of the Underground Railroad.
For a variety of reasons, only a small number of people made it out of the Deep South, where conditions were frequently the worst.
Second, once the government outlawed the African slave trade in 1808, slaves became far more valuable than they had previously been (due to a lack of supply).
Take a look at the links on the next page if you want to learn more about the Underground Railroad.
Lots More Information
- Lori Aratani, Adventure Cycling Association
- Adventure Cycling Association. In Maryland’s backyard, visitors may retrace their steps to freedom at Sandy Spring Underground Railroad State Park. Bordewich, Fergus M., The Washington Post, October 19, 2006
- Bordewich, Fergus M. “We’re on our way to Canaan.” HarperCollins Publishing Company, 2005
- Clark, Jayne. According to the article, “New cycling paths trace the Underground Railroad.” The Emancipation Network
- Harris, Patricia, and David Lyon
- The Emancipation Network, USA Today, March 9, 2007. “Houses served as important stopping points for the Underground Railroad.” The Boston Globe, April 4, 2007
- Steven Howell, “The Boston Globe,” April 4, 2007. “The Exporail exhibit delves into the mysteries of the Underground Railroad.” James M. McPherson and the International Justice Mission were featured in The Gazette (Montreal) on February 9, 2007. “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era” is a book on the American Civil War. The Milton House Museum
- National Geographic: The Underground Railroad
- National Park Service guide to the Underground Railroad
- National Park Service online history book
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
- Okur, Nilgun Anadolu
- Ballantine Books, 1988
- The Milton House Museum
- Okur, Nilgun Anadolu “Philadelphia’s Underground Railroad, 1830 – 1860,” a book published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Polaris Project
- Preston, E. Delorus, Jr.
- Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 25, No. 5 (May 1995)
- Preston, E. Delorus, Jr. “The Underground Railroad in Northwest Ohio,” according to the author. The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 17, No. 4 (October, 1932)
- “railroad” is a reference to the railroad. The Encyclopedia Britannica published in 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 28 January 2008
- Siebert, Wilbur H. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 28 January 2008
- Slavery to Freedom on the Underground Railroad” is the title of this article. “The Underground Railroad and the Secret Codes of Antebellum Slave Quilts,” published by the Macmillan Company in 1898, is a fascinating read. Underground Railroad Living Museum:
- The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Vol. 46, No. 1, Winter 2004-2005
- The Underground Railroad Living Museum:
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
The majority of enslaved persons aided by the Underground Railroad were able to flee to neighboring states like as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made catching fugitive enslaved persons a lucrative industry in the deep South, and there were fewer hiding places for them as a result of the Act. The majority of fugitive enslaved people were on their own until they reached specific places farther north. The escaping enslaved people were escorted by individuals known as “conductors.” Private residences, churches, and schools were also used as hiding places throughout the war.
The personnel in charge of running them were referred to as “stationmasters.” There were several well-traveled roads that ran west through Ohio and into Indiana and Iowa.
While some traveled north via Pennsylvania and into New England, or through Detroit on their route to Canada, others chose to travel south. The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Abolitionist He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was during this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, an organization dedicated to aiding fleeing slaves in their journey to Canada. With the abolitionist movement, Brown would play a variety of roles, most notably leading an assault on Harper’s Ferry to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people under threat of death. Eventually, Brown’s forces were defeated, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two of them were jailed for aiding an escaped enslaved woman and her child escape.
- When Charles Torrey assisted an enslaved family fleeing through Virginia, he was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland.
- was his base of operations; earlier, he had served as an abolitionist newspaper editor in Albany, New York.
- In addition to being fined and imprisoned for a year, Walker had the letters “SS” for Slave Stealer tattooed on his right hand.
As a slave trader, Fairfield’s strategy was to travel across the southern states. Twice he managed to escape from prison. Tennessee’s arebellion claimed his life in 1860, and he was buried there.
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.
Pathways to Freedom
The Underground Railroad was made up of a diverse group of people who came from all walks of life. Black people and white people, men and women, individuals from “slave” states and people from “free” states were all present and accounted for. There were both old and young folks in attendance. Everyone who was involved in the Underground Railroad was taking a significant risk. If they were apprehended, they would face severe punishment, maybe even death. Harriet Tubman is regarded as one of the most prominent “conductors” of the Underground Railroad.
- In many various ways, free blacks, free whites, and even some enslaved persons functioned as conductors, assisting fugitives from slavery in a variety of ways.
- Numerous Quakers and other white individuals assisted those who were enslaved because, despite the fact that they were white, they held a deep belief in the injustice of slavery.
- Because they were escaping enslaved people as well as themselves, they needed to keep the information hidden.
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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.
Estimates range between 6,000 and 10,000.
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.
Harriet Tubman is a historical figure who lived during the American Civil War. She was a pioneer in the fight against slavery. William Still is an American author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by the author Levi Coffin in the fictional world of the novel Levi Coffin John Fairfield is a well-known author and illustrator.
The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad
Even before the nineteenth century, it appears that a mechanism to assist runaways existed. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his escaped slaves by “a organization of Quakers, founded for such purposes.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge. Their influence may have played a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, which was home to a large number of Quakers.
In recognition of his contributions, Levi is often referred to as the “president of the Underground Railroad.” In Fountain City, Ohio, on Ohio’s western border, the eight-room Indiana home they bought and used as a “station” before they came to Cincinnati has been preserved and is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
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. It was imperative that the runaways maintain their eyes on the North Star at all times; only by keeping that star in front of them could they be certain that they were on their trip north.
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 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.
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. In her honor, a Grand Jubilee was celebrated on May 6, 1863, in the city of Cleveland.
The Reverse Underground Railroad
A “reverse Underground Railroad” arose in the northern states surrounding the Ohio River during the Civil War. The black men and women of those states, whether or not they had previously been slaves, were occasionally kidnapped and concealed in homes, barns, and other structures until they could be transported to the South and sold as slaves.
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. return to the Slave Life and the Underground Railroad page
Fugitive Slave Acts
Historically, the Fugitive Slave Acts were two pieces of legislation established by Congress in 1793 and 1850 (and repealed in 1864) that allowed for the capture and return of fugitive slaves who escaped from one state into another or into a federally administered region. The 1793 legislation carried out Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution by permitting any federal district judge or circuit court judge, as well as any state magistrate, to determine the legal status of an accused fugitive slave without the need for a trial by jury.
- These laws established that fugitives who challenged an initial ruling against them were entitled to a jury trial.
- The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes.
- Weber (c.1893).
- LC-USZ62-28860) Quiz on the Encyclopedia Britannica This quiz will examine the history of slavery and resistance.
- Who was the leader of the mutiny of 53 enslaved individuals on the Spanish slave ship Amistad that occurred in 1839?
- Take the quiz to find out.
Under this rule, fugitives were not permitted to testify in their own defense, nor were they given the opportunity to stand trial before a jury.
In addition, under the 1850 statute, special commissioners were to have concurrent jurisdiction with the United States courts in the enforcement of the law.
There was a rise in the number of abolitionists, the Underground Railroad activities grew more efficient, and new personal-liberty legislation were established in several Northern states during this period.
The attempts to put the legislation of 1850 into action sparked a great deal of animosity and were very certainly responsible for stoking sectional antagonism as much as the debate over slavery in the territory.
The Library of Congress’s Printed Ephemera Collection is located in Washington, D.C.
Portfolio 22, Folder 12b) A period of time during the American Civil War was regarded to be a period of time during which the Fugitive Slave Acts were still in effect in the instance of Blacks fleeing from masters in border states that were loyal to the Union authority.
It wasn’t until June 28, 1864, that the acts were finally overturned by the legislature. Those in charge of editing the Encyclopaedia Britannica Adam Augustyn was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.
The Underground Railroad
The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called “stations” and “depots” and were run by “stationmasters,” those who contributed money or goods were “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.For the slave, running away to the North was anything but easy.
For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources.
The fugitives would move at night.
While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its stationmaster.The fugitives would also travel by train and boat – conveyances that sometimes had to be paid for.
This money was donated by individuals and also raised by various groups, including vigilance committees.Vigilance committees sprang up in the larger towns and cities of the North, most prominently in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.