The Underground Railroad (1850-1860) was an intricate network of people, safe places, and communities that were connected by land, rail, and maritime routes.
Did the Fugitive Slave Act Start Underground Railroad?
Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them.
How did the Fugitive Slave Act affect the Underground Railroad?
For the slaves traveling north on the Underground Railroad, they were still in danger once they entered northern states. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 allowed and encouraged the capture of fugitive slaves due to the fact that they were seen as stolen property, rather than abused human beings.
When was the Underground Railroad first used?
The term Underground Railroad began to be used in the early 1830s. In keeping with that name for the system, homes and businesses that harbored runaways were known as “stations” or “depots” and were run by “stationmasters.” “Conductors” moved the fugitives from one station to the next.
What were the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850?
Fugitive Slave Acts, in U.S. history, statutes passed by Congress in 1793 and 1850 (and repealed in 1864) that provided for the seizure and return of runaway slaves who escaped from one state into another or into a federal territory.
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.
Where did the Underground Railroad end?
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination.
When was the Underground Railroad started and ended?
system used by abolitionists between 1800-1865 to help enslaved African Americans escape to free states.
How many slaves used the Underground Railroad?
The total number of runaways who used the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom is not known, but some estimates exceed 100,000 freed slaves during the antebellum period. Those involved in the Underground Railroad used code words to maintain anonymity.
Why did they start the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was established to aid enslaved people in their escape to freedom. The railroad was comprised of dozens of secret routes and safe houses originating in the slaveholding states and extending all the way to the Canadian border, the only area where fugitives could be assured of their freedom.
Did the Underground Railroad start the Civil War?
The Underground Railroad physically resisted the repressive laws that held slaves in bondage. By provoking fear and anger in the South, and prompting the enactment of harsh legislation that eroded the rights of white Americans, the Underground Railroad was a direct contributing cause of the Civil War.
How long did the Underground Railroad take to travel?
The journey would take him 800 miles and six weeks, on a route winding through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, tracing the byways that fugitive slaves took to Canada and freedom.
What was the punishment for runaway slaves?
Many escaped slaves upon return were to face harsh punishments such as amputation of limbs, whippings, branding, hobbling, and many other horrible acts. Individuals who aided fugitive slaves were charged and punished under this law.
Fugitive Slave Acts
Runaway slaves were captured and returned to their owners under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Acts, which were a set of federal statutes passed in 1850 and 1851, respectively, in the United States. The original Fugitive Slave Act, passed by Congress in 1793, empowered local governments to catch and return fugitive slaves to their owners while also imposing penalties on anybody who assisted them in their escape. Widespread opposition to the 1793 statute resulted in the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which expanded the number of rules applicable to runaways and imposed even harsher penalties for interfering with their arrest or capture attempts.
What Were the Fugitive Slave Acts?
Runaway slaves were captured and returned to their owners under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Acts, which were enacted by Congress in 1850 and 1854, respectively. The original Fugitive Slave Act, passed by Congress in 1793, empowered local governments to apprehend and return fugitive slaves to their owners while also imposing penalties on anybody who assisted them in their escape. As a result of widespread opposition to the 1793 legislation, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed, which expanded the protections for runaways and imposed even harsher penalties for anyone who interfered with their apprehension.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1793
Known as the Fugitive Slave Acts, they were a set of federal statutes that provided for the apprehension and return of enslaved persons who had escaped from their masters while on the territory of the United States. The original Fugitive Slave Act, passed by Congress in 1793, empowered local governments to apprehend and return fugitive slaves to their owners while also imposing penalties on anybody who assisted them in their escape. As a result of widespread opposition to the 1793 legislation, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed, which included further rules involving runaways and imposed even harsher sanctions for interfering with their apprehension.
Prigg v. Pennsylvania
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a set of federal statutes that allowed for the apprehension and return of fugitive enslaved individuals who were found on the territory of the United States. The first Fugitive Slave Act, passed by Congress in 1793, empowered local governments to collect and return fugitive slaves to their owners while also imposing penalties on anyone who assisted them in their escape. Widespread opposition to the 1793 statute resulted in the introduction of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which included further rules involving runaways and imposed even harsher sanctions for interfering with their apprehension.
The Fugitive Slave Acts were among the most contentious legislation of the early nineteenth century.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
Because of rising pressure from Southern lawmakers, Congress amended the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 and approved a new version the following year. This new rule, which was enacted as part of Henry Clay’s renowned Compromise of 1850—a set of laws that helped quell early aspirations for Southern secession—forcibly required individuals to aid in the arrest of runaway children. Moreover, it removed the right to a jury trial from the hands of enslaved people and increased the punishment for interfering with the rendition process to $1,000 and six months in prison.
- They were compensated more for returning a suspected runaway than they were for freeing them, prompting many to believe the legislation was prejudiced in favor of slaveholders in the Southern United States.
- As a result, states such as Vermont and Wisconsin developed additional legislation aimed at circumventing and even nullifying the rule, while abolitionists stepped up their efforts to help runaways.
- On rare occasions, the resistance erupted into riots and revolutions.
- Similar rescues were carried out in the following years in New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Acts
In 1850, Congress approved a new Fugitive Slave Act in response to rising pressure from Southern lawmakers. This new rule, which was enacted as part of Henry Clay’s renowned Compromise of 1850—a collection of laws that helped quell early aspirations for Southern secession—forcibly required individuals to aid in the apprehension of runaways. A jury trial was also denied to enslaved persons, and the punishment for interfering with the rendition process was doubled to $1,000 and six months in prison.
Many people believe the legislation was slanted in favor of Southern slaveholders since these agents were paid more for returning a suspected runaway than they were for liberating them.
States such as Vermont and Wisconsin created new legislation aimed at circumventing and even nullifying the law, while abolitionists stepped up their attempts to aid fugitives from justice.
Rage and insurrection broke out on occasion as a result of the opposition.
After it, rescues of a similar nature were carried out in other states such as New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
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.
One of American History’s Worst Laws Was Passed 165 Years Ago
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 had escaped from one state into another or into a federally administered territory. It was enacted in 1793 to carry out Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which authorized any federal district 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 jury trial.
- These laws established that fugitives who appealed an original 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 and seek asylum elsewhere in the country.
- Weber from around 1893.
- The Slavery and Resistance in Historical Perspective Quiz Which presidents of the United States held slaves during their lifetimes and which did not?
- Take a test to see how much you know.
- Because of the desire from the South for more stringent regulation, a second Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850, which became effective in 1861.
- Federal marshals who failed to execute the law or from whom a runaway fled were subjected to severe penalties; fines were also imposed on people who assisted slaves in their escape.
- When the 1850 law was enforced harshly, it resulted in abuses and ultimately negated its intended result.
- This set of state legislation was among the issues that South Carolina formally cited in December 1860 as reason for its separation from the Union.
- the payment made in exchange for the return of a fugitive slave advertisement from 1838 offering a $150 prize for the return of a person who managed to flee the bonds of servitude Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, Printed Ephemera Collection (call no.
The repeal of the statutes did not take effect until June 28, 1864. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the editors write about: In the most recent revision and update, Adam Augustyn made significant changes to the article.
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The Underground Railroad – Lincoln Home National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)
When we talk about the Underground Railroad, we’re talking about the attempts of enslaved African Americans to earn their freedom by escaping bondage, which took place from the beginning of the Civil War to the end of the war. In every country where slavery existed, there was a concerted attempt to flee, first to maroon communities in remote locations far from settlements, then across state and international borders. Runaways were considered “fugitives” under the rules of the period because of their acts of self-emancipation, albeit in retrospect, the term “freedom seeker” appears to be a more fair description.
It’s possible that the choice to aid a freedom seeking was taken on the spur of the moment.
Freedom seekers traveled in a variety of directions, including Canada, Mexico, the United States West, the Caribbean islands, and Europe.
The Fugitive Slave Acts
Until the end of the Civil War, enslavement in the United States was considered lawful and acceptable. In contrast to the rhetoric of the Revolutionary War era about freedom, the new United States constitution safeguarded the rights of individuals to possess and enslave other people, including women. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 further reinforced these slaveholding rights, allowing for the return to captivity of any African American who was accused or simply suspected of being a freedom seeker under certain circumstances.
It was a $500 punishment for anybody who supported a liberator or just interfered with an arrest, a clear recognition of the significance and lasting influence on American society of the Underground Railroad phenomenon decades before it was given its official name.
Individuals in the North were brought face to face with the immoral issue by the spectacle of African Americans being reenslaved at the least provocation and the selling of abducted free African Americans to the South for slavery.
Those who aided freedom seekers in their attempts to flee were considered members of the Underground Railroad. “Buy us too,” says H.L. Stephens in his parting words. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information.
Motivation of Freedom Seekers
Time period, geographic location, kind of agriculture or industry, size of the slaveholding unit, urban vs rural environment, and even the temperament and financial stability of the enslaver all influenced the degree to which people were enslaved. All of these experiences have one thing in common: the dehumanization of both the victim and the oppressor as a result of the demands of a system that treats human beings as property rather than as individuals. This element, probably more than any other, helps to explain why some people opted to escape and why their owners were frequently taken aback by their actions.
Many people were able to flee because they had access to knowledge and abilities, including reading, which gave them an advantage.
The slaves rebelled despite the fact that the slavery system was intended to train them to accept it.
Geography of the Underground Railroad
Wherever there were enslaved African Americans, there were those who were desperate to get away. Slavery existed in all of the original thirteen colonies, as well as in Spanish California, Louisiana, and Florida, as well as in all of the Caribbean islands, until the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and the British abolition of slavery brought an end to slavery in the United States (1834). The Underground Railroad had its beginnings at the site of enslavement in the United States. The routes followed natural and man-made forms of movement, including rivers, canals, bays, the Atlantic Coast, ferries and river crossings, as well as roads and trails and other infrastructure.
Freedom seekers used their inventiveness to devise disguises, forgeries, and other techniques, drawing on their courage and brains in the process.
Commemoration of Underground Railroad History
Commemoration may only take place if local Underground Railroad figures and events have been discovered and documented. Primary materials, such as letters from the time period, court testimony, or newspaper articles, are used to verify the historical record. Education and preservation of the public are the following steps, which will be accomplished through the preservation of major locations, the use of authentic history in heritage tourism and educational programs, museum and touring exhibits, and commemorative sculpture.
Whenever a site has been paved over, changed, or reconstructed, a pamphlet, walking tour, school curriculum, road marker, or plaque might be used to educate the public about the significance of the location.
A local festival might be organized to bring the history of the area to the attention of the general public.
Uncovering Underground Railroad History
Once local Underground Railroad figures and events are discovered, a commemorative ceremony may be planned for them. Primary sources, such as letters from the time period, court testimony, or newspaper articles, are used to verify the historical information in the text. Education and preservation of the public are the following steps, which will be accomplished through the preservation of major locations, the use of authentic history in heritage tourism and educational programs, museum and touring exhibits, and memorial sculpture.
Whenever a site has been paved over, changed, or reconstructed, a pamphlet, walking tour, school curriculum, road marker, or plaque might be used to educate the public about the significance of the place.
Unknown Underground Railroad Heroes
Commemoration may only take place if local Underground Railroad figures and events have been identified. Primary materials, such as letters from the time period, court evidence, or newspaper articles, are used to verify historical events. Education and preservation of the public are the following stages, which will be accomplished through the preservation of major locations and the application of authentic history in heritage tourism, educational programs, museum and touring exhibits, and commemorative sculpture.
When a site has been paved over, changed, or reconstructed, a brochure, walking tour, school curriculum, road marker, or plaque might be used to describe the significance of the location to members of the public.
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
In addition to coordinating preservation and education efforts across the country, the National Park Service Underground Railroad program integrates local historical sites, museums, and interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad into a mosaic of community, regional, and national stories. The Network also seeks to foster contact and collaboration between scholars and other interested parties, as well as to help in the formation of statewide organizations dedicated to the preservation and investigation of Underground Railroad locations.
1850 Fugitive Slave Act · The Underground Railroad · The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Borderland
Slave catchers should be on the lookout for African Americans residing in Boston. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the number of slave escapes skyrocketed. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which was intended to prevent slave escapes, had the opposite effect. After 1850, the number of people who escaped from Kentucky climbed by 53 percent. The Fugitive Law, according to one Underground Railroad agent, “has boosted the stock on some of our Western routes, by at least 50 to 75 percent,” according to a statement made in 1855.
- According to news sources, the flight of slaves resembled a stampede.
- Similar legislation passed in 1793 gave slaveholders the ability to retrieve slaves while also requiring states to aid them in their efforts.
- According to the court’s decision, state officials were banned from intervening with fugitive slaves.
- The 1793 Fugitive Slave Law was declared illegal by the Supreme Court, and only federal officers were authorized to execute it.
- According to the 1850 Runaway Slave Act, federal officials were authorized to abduct any African American suspected of being a fugitive.
- Anyone of African descent might be accused of being a slave by agents.
- The word of a slaveholder was regarded adequate evidence that the individual in issue was the runaway in question.
The legal consequences for anyone who help fugitives or impede the law in any way were more severe, with a $1000 fine per fugitive and six months in jail being the most severe penalties.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 not only increased the number of escapes in the South, but it also caused many fugitives residing in the Ohio Valley Borderland to travel even further north.
As hundreds of formerly enslaved people dreaded being recaptured, black populations in Indiana and Ohio declined.
According to theLouisville Courier, “.the Fugitive Slave Law cannot be implemented in Ohio and is unlikely to be enacted in the future.” After 1850, slave catchers appointed by the federal government patrolled the Ohio River on a regular basis in search of fugitives.
Agents utilized harsh tactics to abduct and imprison every African-American they came into touch with while acting under federal authority.
Three agents from Washington County, Ohio, were abducted and carried to Virginia, where they were imprisoned for assisting fugitives in 1845.
A word of caution to runaway slaves.
Hudson, Fugitive Slaves, Fugitive Slaves, See p. 83 for information on slaveholder gatherings. According to the Louisville Couriernews, page 5064. The Frontline, pages 107-108. Griffler, Frontline. Hudson’s Fugitive Slaves, Volume 85. Griffler,Frontline,82-83.
Congress enacts first fugitive slave law, Feb. 12, 1793
The first runaway slave statute was passed on this day in 1793 by the United States Congress. Slave fugitives who had fled from other states were supposed to be returned to their owners by force in every state, including those that prohibited slavery. The result in the House was 48-7, with 14 MPs voting against it. The act carried out Article IV of the Constitution — which was later abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment — which required the federal government to apprehend fugitive slaves if they escaped.
- Many of them passed legislation that guaranteed fugitive slaves the right to a jury trial.
- According to these so-called personal liberty statutes, slave owners and fugitive hunters were obliged to present evidence that their prisoners were in fact fugitive slaves before they could be released.
- It called for the return of slaves “under pain of severe punishment,” yet it allowed for a jury trial under the condition that fugitives be barred from testifying in their own defense.
- Fugitive slaves also found ways to get around the law by using the Underground Railroad, which was a network mostly comprised of abolitionists and free African-Americans who assisted fugitives in escaping to northern states or Canada during the Civil War.
- As a result of the backlash, Southern states were increasingly under pressure to split from the Union.
The Underground Railroad
BACK TO THE HISTORY OF AFRICANOS IN WESTERN NEW YORK STATE
|INTRODUCTION||The Fugitive Save Acts||Underground Railroad Maps|
BACK TO THE HISTORY OF AFRICANOS IN WESTERN NEW YORK STATES
|Margaret was worked hard up until the day her baby (by her husband) was born. A week later she was put back to work. It was customary that babies be cared for by broken down slaves; but Margaret was forced to leave the baby Samuel in the shade of a bush by the field, returning to it only twice the entire day she worked.On returning to Samuel one day she found him senseless, exhausted with crying, and a large snake covering him. She then decided to run away with her baby or see it dead. She ran and the tail was magnificient. At one time she, with her baby on her shoulders and in a river, kills the favorite salave hunting dog of her master, an old mastiff.She escapes to her freedom and her finds a home in New York where her son was given education. Her son receives more education and becomes a great man, Frederick Douglas once called “the ablest man the country has ever produced” – Samuel Ward (right), author ofAutobiography of a Fugitive Negro: His Anti-Slavery Labours in the United States, Canada,England.|
citations:, Visitors to the African American History of Western New York pages have increased significantly since 4/96. GET IN TOUCH WITH US
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
“CAUTION! Colored People of Boston” broadside warning of watchmen and police operating as kidnappers and slave catchers published on April 24, 1851 in Boston. Photo courtesy of the public domain It was the Fugitive Slave Acts, which were established by Congress in 1793 and 1850, which authorized the capture and return of fugitive slaves who escaped from one state and fled into another (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.). The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which was enacted as part of the Compromise of 1850, demanded that the United States government actively interfere in order to assist slave owners in regaining control over their slave populations (Ohio History Connection, n.d.).
- As a result of politicians’ arguments that African Americans could not be citizens of the United States, they were not allowed any rights under the law (Ohio History Connection, n.d.).
- A further provision of this statute provides that special commissioners have concurrent jurisdiction with federal courts in executing it (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
- As a result, this was shown to be a blatant example of corruption.
- Actor Anthony Burns portrays scenes from his life after being apprehended and tried under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
- In response to the severity of this act, a rise in the number of abolitionists emerged, as did the formation of a more efficient Underground Railroad, as well as the establishment of new personal-liberty statutes in the North (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
- In addition to inciting more antagonism between the North and the South, this conspicuous opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 fueled the debate about slavery in the United States (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
- The Fugitive Slave Acts were not abolished until June 28, 1864, more than a century after their enactment (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica are cited as sources.
United States of America’s Fugitive Slave Acts (1793, 1850).
The information was obtained from the Ohio History Connection.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed.
It was retrieved from Olson, J.
Mendoza, et al (2015).
American Economic History: A Dictionary and Chronology (American Economic History: A Dictionary and Chronology).
ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California. Instructions for Citing This Article (in APA Format): C. A. Paul & Associates, Inc. (2016). The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed. Project on the History of Social Welfare. It was retrieved from
The Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals – many whites but predominently black – who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. Still, it effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year – according to one estimate,the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850. An organized system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes.” The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed “The Underground Railroad,” after the then emerging steam railroads. 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. The first step was to escape from the slaveholder. For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources. Sometimes a “conductor,” posing as a slave, would enter a plantation and then guide the runaways northward. The fugitives would move at night. They would generally travel between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, hiding in barns and other out-of-the-way places. 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. Money was also needed to improve the appearance of the runaways – a black man, woman, or child in tattered clothes would invariably attract suspicious eyes. 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. In addition to soliciting money, the organizations provided food, lodging and money, and helped the fugitives settle into a community by helping them find jobs and providing letters of recommendation.The Underground Railroad had many notable participants, including John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.|
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape harsh living conditions in their home countries. They required daring and cunning in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters’ possession. Southerners were extremely resentful of people in the North who helped the slaves in their plight. They invented the name “Underground Railroad” to refer to a well-organized network dedicated to keeping slaves away from their masters, which occasionally extended as far as crossing the Canadian border.
In 1850, Congress created the Fugitive Slave Law, which imposed severe fines on anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee.
Underground Railroad “Stations” Develop in Iowa
Iowa shares a southern border with Missouri, which was a slave state during the American Civil War. The abolitionist movement (those who desired to abolish slavery) built a system of “stations” in the 1840s and 1850s that could transport runaways from the Mississippi River to Illinois on their route to freedom. Activists from two religious movements, the Congregationalists and the Quakers, played crucial roles in the abolitionist movement. They were also involved in the Underground Railroad’s operations in the state of New York.
- According to one source, there are more than 100 Iowans who are participating in the endeavor.
- The Hitchcock House, located in Cass County near Lewis, is another well-known destination on the Underground Railroad in one form or another.
- George Hitchcock escorted “passengers” to the next destination on his route.
- Several of these locations are now public museums that are available to the general public.
- Individual families also reacted when they were approached for assistance.
- When the Civil War broke out and the Fugitive Slave Law could no longer be enforced in the northern states, a large number of slaves fled into the state and eventually settled there permanently.
Iowa became the first state to offer black males the right to vote in 1868. It was determined that segregated schools and discrimination in public accommodations were both unconstitutional in Iowa by the Supreme Court.
Iowa: A Free State Willing to Let Slavery Exist
Slavery has been a contentious topic in the United States since its inception, and it continues to be so today. As new states entered the Union, the early fights did not revolve over slavery in the South but rather its expansion. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 created an east-west line along the southern boundary of Missouri, which would remain in place for the rest of time, separating free and slave settlement. States to the south may legalize slavery, whilst states to the north (with the exception of slave state Missouri) were prohibited from doing so.
- The majority of Iowans were ready to allow slavery to continue in the South.
- They enacted legislation in an attempt to deter black people from settling in the state.
- Iowa did have a tiny community of abolitionists who believed that slavery was a moral wrong that should be abolished everywhere.
- This increased the likelihood that Nebraska, which borders Iowa on its western border, would become a slave state.
- The Republican Party has evolved as a staunch opponent of any future expansion of slavery into western areas in the United States.
- $200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- “Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Print, 1850 (Image)
- Fugitive Slave Law, 1850 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Do
How did runaway slaves rely on the help of abolitionists to escape to freedom?
- 200-dollar reward for information on: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (document)
- “Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Print, 1850 (image)
- Fugitive Slave Law, 1850 (document)
- Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-
How did some runaway slaves create their own opportunities to escape?
- A newspaper article entitled “The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry Box Brown” published on June 23, 1849 (Document)
- The Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, published in 1850 (Image, Document)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” illustration published in 1850 (Image)
- Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” published on June 14, 1862 (Do
$200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847
After escaping enslavement, many people depended on northern whites to guide them securely to the northern free states and eventually to Canadian territory. For someone who had previously been forced into slavery, life may be quite perilous. There were incentives for capturing them, as well as adverts such as the one seen below for a prize. More information may be found here.
“Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Illustration, 1850
Written in strong opposition to the Runaway Slave Act, which was approved by Congress in September 1850 and expanded federal and free-state duty for the return of fugitive slaves, this letter is full of anger. The bill called for the appointment of federal commissioners who would have the authority to enact regulations. More information may be found here.
Fugitive Slave Law, 1850
As a result of the Fleeing Slave Law of 1850, it became unlawful for anybody in the northern United States to aid fugitive slaves in their quest for freedom. This statute supplemented the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act with additional clauses addressing runaways, and it imposed even harsher sanctions for interfering with their escape. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “William and Ellen Craft,” February 23, 1849
In this article from the abolitionist journal, The Anti-Slavery Bugle, the narrative of Ellen and William Craft’s emancipation from slavery is described in detail.
Ellen disguised herself as a male in order to pass as the master, while her husband, William, claimed to be her servant as they made their way out of the building.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “Underground Railroad,” September 16, 1854
The Anti-Slavery Bugle article indicates the number of runaway slaves in northern cities in 1854, based on a survey conducted by the organization. This group contained nine slaves from Boone County, Kentucky, who were seeking refuge in the United States. Their captors were said to be on the lookout for them in Cincinnati, and they were found. More information may be found here.
“A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article, November 8, 1855
During the year 1854, the Anti-Slavery Bugle published a report on the number of runaway slaves who had taken refuge in northern towns. This group included nine slaves from Boone County, Kentucky, who were seeking refuge in the United States from slavery. When they were mentioned as being in Cincinnati, they were found by their masters. More information may be found at.
William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, 1890
In the mid-nineteenth century, the William Maxson residence in Springdale, Iowa, served as an Underground Railroad site for African-Americans. The house served as a training ground for abolitionist John Brown and his men before the attack on Harpers Ferry. The home has since been demolished, although it was in the vicinity of Springdale, which was. More information may be found here.
“Fugitive Slave Case Was Tried” – A Daily Gate City Article, April 13, 1915
This story, which was published in the Keokuk, Iowa, newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915, is about a trial that took place in Burlington in 1850. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had fled from Missouri and had worked for him as slaves. More information may be found here.
“The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” Article, June 23, 1849
It was published in the Keokuk, Iowa newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915 and is about a trial that took place in Burlington, Iowa, in 1850 and was published in The Daily Gate City. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had escaped from Missouri and had been working for him. More information may be found at.
Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, 1850
This story, which appeared in The Daily Gate Citynewspaper of Keokuk, Iowa, in 1915, was about a trial that took place in Burlington, Iowa, in the year 1850. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had fled from Missouri. Read on for more information.
“The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” Illustration, 1850
Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped from Richmond, Virginia, in a box measuring three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two and a half feet broad, is depicted in a somewhat comical but sympathetic manner in this artwork. In the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s administrative offices. More information may be found here.
Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” June 14, 1862
Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped from Richmond, Virginia, in a box measuring three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two and a half feet broad, is depicted in a humorous but sympathetic manner in this image. In the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s administrative offices, More information may be found at.
“A Bold Stroke for Freedom” Illustration, 1872
The image from 1872 depicts African Americans, most likely fleeing slaves, standing in front of a wagon and brandishing firearms towards slave-catchers.
A group of young enslaved persons who had escaped from Loudon by wagon are said to be shown in the cartoon on Christmas Eve in 1855, when patrollers caught up with them. More information may be found here.
- Harriet Tubman Day is observed annually on March 31. The statement issued by the State of Delaware on the observance of Harriet Ross Tubman Day on March 10, 2017 may be seen on the website. Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long both signed the statement. Harriet Tubman – A Guide to Online Resources A wide range of material linked with Harriet Tubman may be found in these digital collections from the Library of Congress, which include manuscripts, pictures, and publications. It is the goal of this guide to consolidate connections to digital materials about Harriet Tubman that are available throughout the Library of Congress website. Scenes from Harriet Tubman’s Life and Times The website, which is accessible through the Digital Public Library of America, contains portions from the novel Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, written by Sarah Bradford in 1869 and published by the American Library Association.
Maryland’s Pathways to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in the State of Maryland On this page, you can find primary materials pertaining to Maryland and the Underground Railroad. This includes information from three former slaves, Samuel Green, Phoebe Myers, and their descendants today. “The Underground Railroad: A Secret History” by Eric Foner is a book on the history of the Underground Railroad. Among the topics covered in this piece from The Atlantic is the Underground Railroad’s “secret history,” which includes the reality that the network was not nearly as covert as many people believed.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (8th Grade)
The content anchor requirements for Iowa Core Social Studies that are most accurately reflected in this source collection are listed below. The subject requirements that have been implemented to this set are appropriate for middle school pupils and cover the major areas that make up social studies for eighth grade students in the United States.
- S.8.13.Explain the rights and obligations of people, political parties, and the media in the context of a range of governmental and nonprofit organizations and institutions. (Skills for the twenty-first century)
- SS.8.19.Explain how immigration and migration were influenced by push and pull influences in early American history. SS.8.21.Examine the relationships and linkages between early American historical events and developments in the context of wider historical settings
- In your explanation of how and why prevalent social, cultural, and political viewpoints altered over early American history, please include the following information: SS.8.23.Explain the numerous causes, impacts, and changes that occurred in early American history
- And The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the Monroe Doctrine, the Indian Removal Act, the Missouri Compromise, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo are examples of primary and secondary sources of information that should be critiqued with consideration for the source of the document, its context, accuracy, and usefulness.