Chatham, Ontario. The Buxton National Historic Site Museum commemorates the Elgin Settlement: one of the final stops for the Underground Railroad.
Why did the Underground Railroad go to Canada?
- Underground Railroad. Between 1840 and 1860, before the American Civil War, enslaved Africans followed the North Star on the Underground Railroad to find freedom in Canada. It was not an actual railroad but a secret network of routes and safe houses that helped people escape slavery and reach free states or Canada.
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.
Did the Underground Railroad end in Canada?
The Canadian Terminus Between 1850 and 1860 alone, 15,000 to 20,000 fugitives reached the Province of Canada. It became the main terminus of the Underground Railroad. The newcomers migrated to various parts of what is now Ontario.
Where did the slaves go in Canada?
Fearing for their safety in the United States after the passage of the first Fugitive Slave Law in 1793, over 30,000 slaves came to Canada via the Underground Railroad until the end of the American Civil War in 1865. They settled mostly in southern Ontario, but some also settled in Quebec and Nova Scotia.
When did the Underground Railroad end?
End of the Line The Underground Railroad ceased operations about 1863, during the Civil War. In reality, its work moved aboveground as part of the Union effort against the Confederacy.
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
How many slaves escaped to Canada using the Underground Railroad?
In all 30,000 slaves fled to Canada, many with the help of the underground railroad – a secret network of free blacks and white sympathizers who helped runaways.
Where did Harriet Tubman go in Canada?
According to the act, all refugee slaves in free Northern states could be returned to enslavement in the South once captured. Tubman therefore changed her escape route so that it ended in Canada. She then began and ended her rescues in St. Catharines, Canada West (Ontario), where she moved in 1851.
Did Harriet Tubman live in St Catharines?
Tubman had been living in North Street in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada West since 1851; that was her home and her base of operation. She had brought her parents and her entire family to St. Catharines where they lived safe from slave catchers.
What was the last stop on the Underground Railroad?
Most people know that Jersey City has a rich history. Tons of events and famous players in U.S. and world history have passed through this Hudson County city for different reasons. One piece of history in particular, however, stands out — the Underground Railroad.
When did slavery end in Canada?
Slavery itself was abolished everywhere in the British Empire in 1834. Some Canadian jurisdictions had already taken measures to restrict or end slavery by that time. In 1793 Upper Canada (now Ontario) passed an Act intended to gradually end the practice of slavery.
Who were the Black Loyalists in Canada?
Who were the Black Loyalists? he Black Loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia between 1783 and 1785, as a result of the American Revolution. They were the largest group of people of African birth and of African descent to come to Nova Scotia at any one time.
How does Underground Railroad end?
In the end, Royal is killed and a grief-stricken Cora is caught again by Ridgeway. Ridgeway forces Cora to take him to an Underground Railroad station, but as they climb down the entrance’s rope ladder she pulls Ridgeway off and they fall to the ground.
How did slaves know where to go in the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was a secret system developed to aid fugitive slaves on their escape to freedom. The safe houses used as hiding places along the lines of the Underground Railroad were called stations. A lit lantern hung outside would identify these stations.
Was there slavery in Canada?
The historian Marcel Trudel catalogued the existence of about 4,200 slaves in Canada between 1671 and 1834, the year slavery was abolished in the British Empire. About two-thirds of these were Native and one-third were Blacks. The use of slaves varied a great deal throughout the course of this period.
5 Canadian stations of the Underground Railroad
One of the re-enactments of the Freedom Crossing (Wikimedia/Lynn DeLearie/ CC BY-SA 4.0). While there was no genuine railroad, there was a covert network of people — known as abolitionists — who assisted between 30,000 and 40,000 African Americans in their attempts to flee from slavery in the United States. Slaves who had been freed would find refuge in Canada, as well as in other northern states that had abolished slavery.
John Freeman Walls Underground Railroad MuseumLakeshore, Ontario
During the American Civil War, former slave John Freeman Walls and his white wife escaped from North Carolina and settled in Canada, where they established a family and constructed a log house. This cabin would go on to become one of Canada’s most renowned stations on the subterranean railroad, and it is still in use today.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic SiteDresden, Ontario
The abolitionist Josiah Henson served as the basis for the character Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and his renowned cabin was based on a house in Ontario, where he lived at the time of the novel’s publication. Henson was also an abolitionist, and his New Dawn Settlement served as a safe haven for other fugitives fleeing the law. In 1830, he managed to flee to Canada from Kentucky.
Sandwich First Baptist ChurchWindsor, Ontario
The Sandwich First Baptist Church played an important role in the Underground Railroad’s journey through the town. Originally known as Olde Sandwich Towne, it is now a neighbourhood inside the city of Windsor, and was awarded to newly emancipated residents in 1847 by the then-Queen Victoria. As part of Sunday services, the ringing of a specific bell and the beginning of a specific spiritual hymn served as an alert for runaways to seek shelter in the church’s trap door dungeon when bounty hunters passed by.
(Image courtesy of Wikimedia/Public Domain)
Buxton National Historic SiteChatham, Ontario
The Elgin Settlement, which was one of the last sites on the Underground Railroad, is commemorated at the Buxton National Historic Site Museum, which is located on the grounds of the site. This village, founded in 1849 by Rev. William King, was noted for its exceptional educational system and eventually developed into a self-sufficient community of around 2,000 people. Families descended from the first settlers who chose to remain in Canada continue to reside in Buxton today.
Birchtown National Historic SiteBirchtown, Nova Scotia
Long before the Underground Railroad was established, African-American residents from both French and English backgrounds established themselves in communities such as Annapolis Royal and Birchtown, New Brunswick. Following the American Revolutionary War, these communities not only became a haven for freed slaves looking for refuge north of the border, but also for former Black soldiers in the British colonial military forces, known as Black Loyalists, who were hoping to transfer north to Canada after the war.
The Underground Railroad was a clandestine network of abolitionists that operated between 1861 and 1865. (people who wanted to abolish slavery). In order to get away from enslavement in the American South, they assisted African Americans in escaping to free northern states or Canada. The Underground Railroad was the most important anti-slavery emancipation movement in North America at the time of its founding. It was responsible for transporting between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (nowCanada).
Please check The Underground Railroad for a plain English explanation of the subject matter (Plain-Language Summary).
(people who wanted to abolish slavery).
The Underground Railroad was the most important anti-slavery emancipation movement in North America at the time of its founding.
It was responsible for transporting between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada). This is the full-length entry on the Underground Railroad that can be found here. Please check The Underground Railroad for a plain English overview of the story (Plain-Language Summary).
When the 1793 Act to Limit Slavery was passed, a clause specified that any enslaved person who made it to Upper Canada would be declared free upon arrival. In response to this, a limited number of enslaved African Americans in quest of freedom were urged to enter Canada, mostly on their own. During and after the War of 1812, word traveled even further that independence was possible in Canada. The enslaved slaves of US military commanders in the South carried news back to the North that there were free “Black men in red coats” in British North America, which was confirmed by the British.
It gave slavecatchers the authority to track down fugitives in northern states.
This underground network of abolitionists was established in the early nineteenth century, with the majority of its members being based in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Within a few decades, it had developed into a well-organized and vibrant network of organizations. The phrase “Underground Railroad” first appeared in the 1830s and has been in use ever since. It had already begun to take shape at that point, an informal covert network to assist escaping slaves. The Underground Railroad was not a real train, and it did not operate on actual railroad rails like other railroads.
abolitionists who were devoted to human rights and equality were responsible for keeping the network running.
Its members comprised free Blacks, fellow enslaved individuals, White and Indigenous supporters, Quakers, Methodists, and Baptists, residents of urban centers and farmers, men and women, from all over the world (including the United States and Canada).
Symbols and Codes
In order to conceal the clandestine actions of the network, railroad language and symbols were employed. This also assisted in keeping the general public and slaveholders in the dark. Escaped slaves were referred to as “conductors” by those who assisted them on their voyage. It was their job to guide fugitives via the Underground Railroad’s routes, which included numerous kinds of transit on land and sea. Harriet Tubman was one of the most well-known conductors in history. The names “passengers,” “cargo,” “package,” and “freight” all referred to fugitive slaves on their way to freedom.
Terminals, which were stations located in numerous cities and towns, were referred to as “terminals.” Occasionally, lighted candles in windows or strategically positioned lanterns in the front yard may be used to identify these ephemeral havens of safety.
“Station masters” were in charge of running the safe houses. They welcomed fugitives into their house and gave them with meals, a change of clothing, and a safe haven to rest and hide from the authorities. Prior to delivering them to the next transfer location, they would frequently give them money. WilliamStill, a black abolitionist who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was in command of a station there. He accompanied a large number of freedom seekers on their way to Canada. He kept a list of the men, women, and children that came to his station, including Tubman and her passengers, and he transcribed their names.
- He was the owner and operator of a radio station in Syracuse, New York.
- Catharines, both in Upper Canada, from 1837 until 1841, when he decided to permanently move there.
- A large number of women worked as station masters as well.
- A large number of other women worked alongside their spouses to own radio stations.
“Ticket agents” assisted freedom-seekers in coordinating safe excursions and making travel arrangements by putting them in touch with station masters or conductors, among other things. It was not uncommon for ticket agents to be people who traveled for a living, such as circuit preachers or physicians, to work. They were able to hide their abolitionist operations as a result of this. Among those who served on the Underground Railroad were doctors such as Alexander Milton Ross (born in Belleville).
He also gave them with a few basic items so that they could get started on their escape.
Ways to the Promised Land
“Lines” were the names given to the pathways that people took in order to reach freedom. In total, 14 northern states and two British North American colonies — Upper Canada and Lower Canada — were connected by the network of roads. At the end of the line lay “heaven,” also known as “the Promised Land,” which was undeveloped land in Canada or the Northern United States. A nod to the Big Dipper constellation, which points to the North Star and serves as a navigational aid for freedom-seekers seeking their way north, “the drinking gourd” was a reference to the Big Dipper.
A large number of people undertook the perilous journey on foot.
The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, did not simply operate on land. Additionally, passengers traveled by boat through lakes, oceans, and rivers. They traveled at night and slept throughout the day on a regular basis.
The Canadian Terminus
During the last decades of enslavement in the United States, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 freedom seekers crossed the border into Canada. Approximately 15,000 to 20,000 fugitives entered the Province of Canada between 1850 and 1860 alone. Because of this, it became the primary terminal for the Underground Railroad. The immigrants settled in various sections of what is now the province of Ontario. Among these were Niagara Falls, Buxton, Chatham, Owen Sound, Windsor, Sandwich (now a part of Windsor), Hamilton, Brantford, London, Oakville, and Toronto.
- Following this huge migration, Black Canadians assisted in the creation of strong communities and made significant contributions to the development of the provinces in where they lived and worked.
- The Provincial Freeman newspaper published a thorough report of a specific case in its publication.
- They were on the lookout for a young man by the name of Joseph Alexander.
- Alexandra was present among the throngs of people and had a brief verbal encounter with his previous owner.
- The guys were forced to flee town after the mob refused to allow them to steal Alexander’s possessions.
The Underground Railroad functioned until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited slavery, was ratified in 1865. Freedom-seekers, free Blacks, and descendants of Black Loyalists settled throughout British North America during the American Revolutionary War. It is possible that some of them resided in all-Black colonies, such as the Elgin Settlement and the Buxton Mission in Ontario, the Queen’s Bush Settlement and the DawnSettlement near Dresden in Ontario, as well as Birchtown and Africaville in Nova Scotia, although this is not certain.
- Early African Canadian settlers were hardworking and forward-thinking members of society.
- Religious, educational, social, and cultural institutions, political groupings, and community-building organizations were all founded by black people in the United States.
- (See, for example, Mary Ann Shadd.) African-American men and women held and contributed to a diverse variety of skills and abilities during the time period of the Underground Railroad.
- They also owned and operated saw companies, frozen food distributors, livery stables, pharmacies, herbal treatment services and carpentry firms.
- Black people took an active role in the struggle for racial equality.
- In their communities, they waged war on the prejudice and discrimination they met in their daily lives in Canada by getting meaningful jobs, securing homes, and ensuring that their children received an education.
- Many people were refused the right to dwell in particular neighborhoods because of their color.
- Through publications, conferences, and other public activities, such as Emancipation Day celebrations, Black groups expressed their opposition to racial prejudice and worked to make society a better place for everyone.
- Beginning with their search for independence, security, wealth, and human rights, early Black colonists worked to create a better life for themselves, their descendents, and their fellow citizens in the United States.
In addition, see: Underground Railroad (Plain Language Summary); Black Enslavement in Canada (Plain Language Summary); Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada; Anti-slavery Society of Canada; Josiah Henson; Albert Jackson; Richard Pierpoint; and Editorial: Black Female Freedom Fighters (in English and French).
The Niagara River: Between Slavery and Freedom (U.S. National Park Service)
Stereoview of the Cataract House and rapids. The Niagara Falls Public Library is a public library in Niagara Falls, New York. As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Niagara Falls has long been considered awe-inspiring and a must-see tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world. During the years of the Underground Railroad, Niagara Falls’ strength was derived from more than just its natural occurrence, or even from the harnessing of the Niagara River’s electricity. It was also derived from the conflict between slavery and freedom that existed at the time.
In addition to African Americans who worked as wait staff in the thriving Niagara Falls hotel and tourism business, a network of aid for freedom seekers who arrived in Niagara Falls included African Americans who worked as wait staff in the thriving Niagara Falls hotel and tourism industry.
French put it back in 1860, “There are no locations of equivalent size on the continent with a higher amount of hotel rooms than these.” A result of the hard work of the waiters who provided assistance to freedom seekers on their journeys to freedom in Canada, Niagara Falls became one of the most significant sites in the ferocious conflict between slavery and freedom.
- Ruth Howland is a visual artist.
- This practice began in the early 1840s and continued until World War I.
- The waiters were ready to go into action at a moment’s notice in order to assist individuals crossing the Niagara River to freedom.
- When a Southerner and his company came by carriage in front of the Cataract House and proceeded to attempt to apprehend a fugitive slave called Martha, it was considered a successful capture attempt.
- She dashed down the slick boat stairs while waiters and her pursuers trailed after her, catching up with her.
- Despite the fact that it was widely known that the servers were active in the Underground Railroad, the waiters were able to retain their positions.
- The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information.
- It was constructed in two levels in 1855 to accommodate train traffic, and it quickly rose to prominence as a significant crossing point for thousands of individuals fleeing slavery in search of freedom.
- Joe Bailey and others were transported out of Maryland by her in November 1856.
As they approached the bridge, Harriet exclaimed, “Joe, you’ve entered into Queen Victoria’s domain! ” Congratulations, you are now a free man! Joe raised his head, tears flowing down his face, and began to chant and scream as the train approached the Canadian border and reached the freedom station.
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.
From 6,000 to 8,000 people are expected to attend
The Story of How Canada Became the Final Station on the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman’s Legacy as a Freedom Fighter and a Spion is well documented.
The Beginnings Of the Underground Railroad
Even before the nineteenth century, it appears that a mechanism to assist runaways existed. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the assistance provided to one of his escaped slaves by “a organization of Quakers, founded for such purposes.” The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are more officially known, were among the first abolitionist organizations to emerge. Their influence may have played a role in Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery, which was home to a large number of Quakers.
In recognition of his contributions, Levi is often referred to as the “president of the Underground Railroad.” In Fountain City, Ohio, on Ohio’s western border, the eight-room Indiana home they bought and used as a “station” before they came to Cincinnati has been preserved and is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Underground Railroad Gets Its Name
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.
To Canada and Back Again: Immigration from the United States on the Underground Railroad (1840-1860)
The MA Public History Program at Western University students created this video.
Fugitive or Free?
Prior to 1850, runaway slaves who managed to make their way from the southern United States to the northern states were regarded to have gained their freedom. However, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the northern states were no longer considered a safe haven for fugitive slaves. Slavecatchers may be able to apprehend and return escaped slaves to their respective masters. In addition, anyone who had escaped slavery by emigrating to a free state years previously may be deported back to servitude under certain circumstances.
The same threat existed for all free blacks, regardless of race.
Once they had crossed into Upper Canada, all men, women, and children were free to go wherever they wanted.
LC-USZC4-4550 is the Library of Congress’s catalog number for this item.
The Underground Railroad
Feuding slaves who managed to flee from the southern United States and make their way north were considered free up to the year 1850. However, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the northern states were no longer considered a safe refuge for fugitive slaves and their families. Slavecatchers may be able to apprehend and return escaped slaves to their masters if they are identified. The consequences of this were that those who had managed to escape slavery by joining a free state years earlier may now find themselves back in the grip of slavery.
The same danger loomed over all free blacks at the time.
All men, women, and children were free once they crossed into Upper Canada. In his picture “Effects of the Fugitive Slave Law,” artist Theodore Kaufmann expresses his opposition to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act of the United States. LC-USZC4-4550 from the Library of Congress.
New Land, New Life
In Canada West (previously Upper Canada), black males were granted the ability to own property and vote if they satisfied certain qualifications regarding ownership of property. It was possible for all black people to make a living, get married, and establish a family. Building a new life in Canada was made possible thanks to the help of the Canadian government and abolitionist organisations in both Canada and the United States of America. Refugees were permitted to purchase land at a discounted cost, and educational subsidies were made available to them.
Did You Know?
The province of Upper Canada was renamed Canada West in 1841, and now it is a component of the modern-day Canadian province of Ontario.
When escaped slaves first arrived in Canada West, the vast majority of them chose to live near the United States border. Because of this, they were able to remain closer to family relatives who were distributed around the United States. During this time period, white folks acted in a largely neutral manner toward them. When fugitive slaves began to arrive in greater numbers in the United States around 1840, white residents began to feel threatened. Some people were concerned that these escaped slaves would be unable to work and would be forced to rely on government help instead.
The petition was eventually signed by over 100,000 people.
Black immigrants settled in a variety of towns and communities, including Hamilton, St. Catharine’s, Windsor, and Toronto, as well as other locations. The Chatham-Kent region of Canada West has the highest population of black immigrants and refugees, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. In the 1820s, a handful of all-black towns were formed in the United States. William Wilberforce, a former slave who created Wilberforce, was the world’s first community of this type. The Dawn Settlement was established in 1834 by escaped slave Josiah Henson.
- Later, the towns of Wilberforce and the Dawn Settlement were either abandoned or incorporated into other cities.
- The Buxton Mission is still in operation today in the town of North Buxton, Ontario.
- Some claimed it was the most effective means of protecting oneself, while others were concerned that it was contributing to the continuation of inequality.
- Elgin Settlement, located in what is now Chatham, Ontario, was established in 1849.
The Elgin Settlement as seen on a map from 1860. William King collection/e000755345, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.
Josiah Henson was born a slave in Maryland in 1789, and he and his family finally escaped to Canada in 1830, where they settled. Dawn Township, which later became known as the Dawn Colony, was built by him as an all-Black settlement. Henson made a name for himself as a Methodist preacher in the area, and he believed strongly in the significance of providing work and educational opportunities for black immigrants. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was first published in 1852, was based on the life of Uncle Tom.
A neighborhood leader and “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, Josiah Henson was well-respected in his day.
Making Their Mark
Wherever they landed across Canada, black immigrants who arrived to the country via the Underground Railroad made significant contributions to the well-being of their respective communities. Many of them went on to become farmers, raising crops such as wheat, peas, tobacco, and hemp. Others were experienced tradespeople who worked as blacksmiths, shoemakers, and wagon makers, among other things. The majority of black women, like their white counterparts, did not have jobs outside the house. They cared for their children or earned a living as seamstresses and washerwomen in the factories.
Mrs. Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893), the daughter of an Underground Railroad “station master,” was an abolitionist pioneer and advocate for black refugees who came to Canada during the American Civil War. C-029977 is the number assigned by Library and Archives Canada. A number of publications were established in order to raise awareness of the opportunities available to black people in Canada, to disseminate news, and to advocate for the abolition of slavery. One of the early black newspapers in Canada, The Voice of the Fugitive was established in Sandwich, Canada West, in 1851 and was one of the country’s first black publications.
Following that, Mary Ann Shadd Cary started another newspaper, the Provincial Freeman, which she published until her death.
Shadd Cary was the first black woman to be elected to political office in the United States.
The Voice of the Fugitive was one of the first periodicals in Canada West to be published in order to raise awareness of the possibilities and services available to African-Americans. Amistad Research Center/American Missionary Association Archives ama0015 (Voice of the Fugitive, 1851).
Did You Know?
After meeting certain requirements, black men were granted the right to vote upon their arrival in Canada. Women in Canada were not granted the right to vote in federal elections until 1919, and Aboriginal people were not granted the right to vote until 1960.
While on the surface, life looked to be far better in Canada, this newfound independence had its limitations. Despite the fact that slaves were granted freedom in Canada, they were nevertheless subjected to racism, persecution, and discrimination. Blacks were pushed away from Canada as a result of these beliefs, while other circumstances drew them back towards the United States over time. The passage of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which ended slavery, resulted in a significant improvement in the conditions of black people in the United States.
Those who remained in Canada continued to make contributions to their communities, and over time, they were successful in breaking down many racial barriers.
Upper Canada’s John Graves Simcoe signs the Act Against Slavery into law in the year 1793. The British Emancipation Act of 1834 formally abolishes the system of slavery across the British Empire, with the exception of the colonies. The Dawn Settlement is established near Dresden, Canada West, in the year 1842. The Elgin Settlement, Canada West, is established in 1849. The Fugitive Slave Act is passed in the United States of America in 1850. Sandwich, Canada West, is the site of the inaugural publication of The Voice of the Fugitive newspaper in 1851.
- Henry W.
- The American Civil War began in 1861.
- The American Civil War comes to a conclusion in 1865.
- – In Washington, D.C., Mary Ann Shadd Cary succumbs to her injuries.
Settlements in Canada
Written by Dr. Bryan Walls After the War of 1812, American officers stationed at Fort Malden (now Amherstburg, Ontario) brought back tales of a land where fugitive slaves were welcomed, which they shared with their fellow citizens in the United States. The outcome was that large numbers of enslaved freedom seekers were able to make their way to Amhersburg. During a trip of Upper Canada in 1844, the renowned abolitionist Levi Coffin characterized Amherstburg as “the chief terminal place in Canada of the Underground Railroad.” Between 1817 and 1822, the township of Ferry, which would eventually be known as Windsor and Sandwich Township, served as the initial refuge for many of the first significant wave of fugitives to enter Upper Canada.
The Matthew Settlement, Edgar, Mt.
Pleasant, Rochester and Harrow.
This town represented a ray of hope for a better life, a yearning shared by Underground Railroad migrants in colonies across Canada at the time of its founding.
The Refugee Home Society Settlement
My ancestors acquired land from the Refugee Home Society at the Puce River colony, which was then known as the Puce River Settlement. In the middle of the nineteenth century, there was woods and trees on every side. The Refugee Home Society Settlement land proposal was suggested by Henry Bibb, the founder of the “Voice of the Fugitive” newspaper, with assistance from the American Missionary Association, and was eventually approved. Lots were acquired and then resold to refugees at a low price on favorable circumstances.
- John and Jane Walls were worried about their personal safety as well as the protection of their children.
- When it came down to it, the truth was weirder than fiction.
- He is a Baptist, and his life narrative is a little strange.
- After his previous master passed away, his mistress relocated to Canada with her children, bringing this man with her.
- He owns a little farm and has paid off his debts.
- Wheeler, a former Oberlin student, now teaches at Little River Elementary School, which is a model of excellence.
- Because many policies and judgments were incorrect, the Refugee Home Society was unable to achieve the aims set out by its founding members.
Underground Railroad Settlements were located throughout Ontario, Canada
During the nineteenth century, small Black communities were firmly established in six areas of Canada West: along the Detroit frontier, that is at Windsor, Sandwich, and Amherstburg and their environs; in Chatham and its surrounding area, where the all-Black settlements of Dawn and Elgin were established; in what was then the central section of the province, particularly London and the Queen’s Bush; and in the Black settlement of Elgin, which was established in the late nineteenth century.” Beyond these concentrations of Black people, tiny groups of Blacks and individual Black Families were established across Canada’s western regions,” says the author.
The Elgin Settlement / The Buxton Mission
Buxton, Ontario, is home to one of the most successful Canadian communities. The Presbyterian minister Reverend William King created the Elgin Settlement, which contains the Buxton Mission. Following the death of his father-in-law, King acquired 14 slaves, to which he later added another before traveling north and freeing them all in the state of Ohio. King was resolved to establish a shelter for African-Americans who were entering Canada. On November 28, 1849, over the opposition of Edwin Larwill, a White radical, and other allies, King established the Elgin Settlement with the help of 15 slaves from the state of Ohio.
- The 360,000 acres of property in Raleigh Township were divided into 2,000 acre lots, which were acquired by new immigrants.
- A church and school building, as well as a post office, were constructed in the year 1850.
- Educating their children was extremely important to the settlers in Elgin, and their Buxton Mission School was significantly superior to the government-run schools.
- All were drawn to the university because of the high level of education provided.
- During the course of the settlement’s growth and development, the settlers overcame the antagonism and prejudice of their White neighbors.
- Education, hard effort, and imagination were all important factors in achieving liberation from slavery, just as they are today.
6 Strategies Harriet Tubman and Others Used to Escape Along the Underground Railroad
Despite the horrors of slavery, the decision to run was not an easy one. Sometimes escaping meant leaving behind family and embarking on an adventure into the unknown, where harsh weather and a shortage of food may be on the horizon. Then there was the continual fear of being apprehended. On both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, so-called slave catchers and their hounds were on the prowl, apprehending runaways — and occasionally free Black individuals likeSolomon Northup — and taking them back to the plantation where they would be flogged, tortured, branded, or murdered.
In total, close to 100,000 Black individuals were able to flee slavery in the decades leading up to the Civil War. Some fled to Mexico or Spanish-controlled Florida, while others chose to remain in the wilderness. The majority, on the other hand, chose to go to the Northern free states or Canada.
1: Getting Help
Harriet Tubman, maybe around the 1860s. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. No matter how brave or brilliant they were, few enslaved individuals were able to free themselves without the assistance of others. Even the smallest amount of assistance, such as hidden instructions on how to get away and who to trust, may make a significant difference. The most fortunate, on the other hand, were those who followed so-called “conductors,” like as Harriet Tubman, who, after escaping slavery in 1849, devoted her life to the Underground Railroad.
Tubman, like her other conductors, built a network of accomplices, including so-called “stationmasters,” who helped her hide her charges in barns and other safe havens along the road.
She was aware of which government officials were receptive to bribery.
Among other things, she would sing particular tunes or impersonate an owl to indicate when it was time to flee or when it was too hazardous to come out of hiding.
Tubman developed a number of other methods during the course of her career to keep her pursuers at arm’s length. For starters, she preferred to operate during the winter months when the longer evenings allowed her to cover more land. Also, she wanted to go on Saturday because she knew that no announcements about runaways would appear in the papers until the following Monday (since there was no paper on Sunday.) Tubman carried a handgun, both for safety and to scare people under her care who were contemplating retreating back to civilization.
The railroad engineer would subsequently claim that “I never drove my train off the track” and that he “never lost a passenger.” Tubman frequently disguised herself in order to return to Maryland on a regular basis, appearing as a male, an old lady, or a middle-class free black, depending on the occasion.
- They may, for example, approach a plantation under the guise of a slave in order to apprehend a gang of escaped slaves.
- Some of the sartorial efforts were close to brilliance.
- They traveled openly by rail and boat, surviving numerous near calls along the way and eventually making it to the North.
- After dressing as a sailor and getting aboard the train, he tried to trick the conductor by flashing his sailor’s protection pass, which he had obtained from an accomplice.
Enslaved women have hidden in attics and crawlspaces for as long as seven years in order to evade their master’s unwelcome sexual approaches. Another confined himself to a wooden container and transported himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, where abolitionists were gathered.
4: Codes, Secret Pathways
Circa 1887, Harriet Tubman (far left) is shown with her family and neighbors at her home in Auburn, New York. Photograph courtesy of MPI/Getty Images The Underground Railroad was almost non-existent in the Deep South, where only a small number of slaves were able to flee. While there was less pro-slavery attitude in the Border States, individuals who assisted enslaved persons there still faced the continual fear of being ratted out by their neighbors and punished by the law enforcement authorities.
In the case of an approaching fugitive, for example, the stationmaster may get a letter referring to them as “bundles of wood” or “parcels.” The terms “French leave” and “patter roller” denoted a quick departure, whilst “slave hunter” denoted a slave hunter.
5: Buying Freedom
The Underground Railroad, on the other hand, functioned openly and shamelessly for long of its duration, despite the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which prescribed heavy fines for anybody proven to have helped runaways. Stationmasters in the United States claimed to have sheltered thousands of escaped slaves, and their activities were well documented. A former enslaved man who became a stationmaster in Syracuse, New York, even referred to himself in writing as the “keeper of the Underground Railroad depot” in his hometown of Syracuse, New York.
At times, abolitionists would simply purchase the freedom of an enslaved individual, as they did in the case of Sojourner Truth.
Besides that, they worked to sway public opinion by funding talks by Truth and other former slaves to convey the miseries of bondage to public attention.
The Underground Railroad volunteers would occasionally band together in large crowds to violently rescue fleeing slaves from captivity and terrify slave catchers into going home empty-handed if all else failed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, John Brown was one among those who advocated for the use of brutal force. Abolitionist leader John Brown led a gang of armed abolitionists into Missouri before leading a failed uprising in Harpers Ferry, where they rescued 11 enslaved individuals and murdered an enslaver.
Brown was followed by pro-slavery troops throughout the voyage.
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
However, many of the intriguing and lesser known elements of the Underground Railroad are not included in many textbooks, despite the fact that it is an essential part of our nation’s history. It is intended that this booklet will serve as a window into the past by presenting a number of original documents pertaining to the Underground Railroad. Broadsides, prize posters, newspaper clippings, historical records, sheet music, pictures, and memoirs connected to the Underground Railroad are among the primary sources included in this collection.
The Underground Railroad was a covert structure established to assist fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in the United States.
As a result, secret codes were developed to aid in the protection of themselves and their purpose.
Runaway slaves were referred to as cargo, and the free persons who assisted them on their journey to freedom were referred to as conductors.
Stations were the names given to the safe homes that were utilized as hiding places along the routes of the Underground Railroad. These stations would be identified by a lantern that was lighted and hung outside.
A Dangerous Path to Freedom
Traveling through the Underground Railroad to seek their freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, in a short amount of time in order to escape. They accomplished this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were rushing after them in the night. Slave owners were not the only ones who sought for and apprehended fleeing slaves. For the purpose of encouraging people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters offering monetary compensation for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
- They would have to fend off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them while trekking for lengthy periods of time in the wilderness, as well as cross dangerous terrain and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the arrest of fugitive slaves since they were regarded as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the law at the time.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the southern states, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’ American Memory and America’s Library collections.
He did not escape via the Underground Railroad, but rather on a regular railroad.
Since he was a fugitive slave who did not have any “free papers,” he had to borrow a seaman’s protection certificate, which indicated that a seaman was a citizen of the United States, in order to prove that he was free.
Unfortunately, not all fugitive slaves were successful in their quest for freedom.
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson, and John Parker were just a few of the people who managed to escape slavery using the Underground Railroad system.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet in diameter. When he was finally let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
Train conductors on the Underground Railroad were free persons who provided assistance to escaped slaves moving via the Underground Railroad system. Runaway slaves were assisted by conductors, who provided them with safe transportation to and from train stations. They were able to accomplish this under the cover of darkness, with slave hunters on their tails. Many of these stations would be in the comfort of their own homes or places of work, which was convenient. They were in severe danger as a result of their actions in hiding fleeing slaves; nonetheless, they continued because they believed in a cause bigger than themselves, which was the liberation thousands of oppressed human beings.
- They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
- Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
- With the following words from one of his songs, abolitionist poet John Whittier paid respect to Walker’s valiant actions: “Take a step forward with your muscular right hand, brave ploughman of the sea!
- She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
- He went on to write a novel.
- John Parker is yet another former slave who escaped and returned to slave states in order to aid in the emancipation of others.
Rankin’s neighbor and fellow conductor, Reverend John Rankin, was a collaborator in the Underground Railroad project.
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were unquestionably anti-slavery, and they were not alone in their views.
Individuals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur and Lewis Tappan founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which marked the beginning of the abolitionist movement.
The group published an annual almanac that featured poetry, paintings, essays, and other abolitionist material.
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who rose to prominence as an abolitionist after escaping from slavery.
His other abolitionist publications included the Frederick Douglass Paper, which he produced in addition to delivering public addresses on themes that were important to abolitionists.
Anthony was another well-known abolitionist who advocated for the abolition of slavery via her speeches and writings.
For the most part, she based her novel on the adventures of escaped slave Josiah Henson.
Efforts of Abolitionists Telling Their Story:Fugitive Slave Narratives
Henry Bibb was born into slavery in Kentucky in the year 1815, and he was the son of a slave owner. After several failed efforts to emancipate himself from slavery, he maintained the strength and persistence to continue his struggle for freedom despite being captured and imprisoned numerous times. His determination paid off when he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then on to Canada with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, which had been highly anticipated. The following is an excerpt from his tale, in which he detailed one of his numerous escapes and the difficulties he faced as a result of his efforts.
- I began making preparations for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the shackles that tied me as a slave as soon as the clock struck twelve.
- On the twenty-fifth of December, 1837, the long-awaited day had finally arrived when I would put into effect my previous determination, which was to flee for Liberty or accept death as a slave, as I had previously stated.
- It took every ounce of moral strength I have to keep my emotions under control as I said goodbye to my small family.
- Despite the fact that every incentive was extended to me in order to flee if I want to be free, and the call of liberty was booming in my own spirit, ‘Be free, oh, man!
- I was up against a slew of hurdles that had gathered around my mind, attempting to bind my wounded soul, which was still imprisoned in the dark prison of mental degeneration.
- Furthermore, the danger of being killed or arrested and deported to the far South, where I would be forced to spend the rest of my days in hopeless bondage on a cotton or sugar plantation, all conspired to discourage me.
- The moment has come for me to follow through on my commitment.
- This marked the beginning of the construction of what was known as the underground rail route to Canada.
For nearly forty-eight hours, I pushed myself to complete my journey without food or rest, battling against external difficulties that no one who has never experienced them can comprehend: “not knowing when I might be captured while traveling among strangers, through cold and fear, braving the north winds while wearing only a thin layer of clothing, pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not a single house in which I could enter to protect me from the storm.” This is merely one of several accounts penned by runaway slaves who were on the run from their masters.
Sojourner Truth was another former slave who became well-known for her work to bring slavery to an end.
Green and many others, including Josiah Henson, authored autobiographies in which they described their own personal experiences.
Perhaps a large number of escaped slaves opted to write down their experiences in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or perhaps they did so in order to help folks learn from the mistakes of the past in order to create a better future for themselves.