Routes. Underground Railroad routes went north to free states and Canada, to the Caribbean, into United States western territories, and Indian territories. Some freedom seekers (escaped slaves) travelled South into Mexico for their freedom.
Underground Railroad – Wikipedia
- Underground Railroad routes went north to free states and Canada, to the Caribbean, into United States western territories, and Indian territories. Some freedom seekers (escaped slaves) travelled South into Mexico for their freedom. Harriet Tubman (photo H. B. Lindsley), c. 1870.
When did the Underground Railroad begin and end?
system used by abolitionists between 1800-1865 to help enslaved African Americans escape to free states.
How did the slaves travel the Underground Railroad?
Conductors helped runaway slaves by providing them with safe passage to and from stations. They did this under the cover of darkness with slave catchers hot on their heels. Many times these stations would be located within their own homes and businesses.
What were the tracks of the Underground Railroad?
There were four main routes that the enslaved could follow: North along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to the northern United States and Canada; South to Florida and refuge with the Seminole Indians and to the Bahamas; West along the Gulf of Mexico and into Mexico; and East along the seaboard into Canada.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
What states were part of the 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 Harriet Tubman find out about the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad and Siblings Tubman first encountered the Underground Railroad when she used it to escape slavery herself in 1849. Following a bout of illness and the death of her owner, Tubman decided to escape slavery in Maryland for Philadelphia.
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.
Why did Harriet Tubman wear a bandana?
As was the custom on all plantations, when she turned eleven, she started wearing a bright cotton bandana around her head indicating she was no longer a child. She was also no longer known by her “basket name”, Araminta. Now she would be called Harriet, after her mother.
How far did the Underground Railroad go?
Because it was dangerous to be in free states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, or even Massachusetts after 1850, most people hoping to escape traveled all the way to Canada. So, you could say that the Underground Railroad went from the American south to Canada.
How many slaves died trying to escape?
At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.
Can you take a tour of the Underground Railroad?
Schedule Your Visit Our adjusted hours of operations are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm (EST). Learn more about what you can see and do at the visitor center, and explore the stories of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad!
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives. Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
Enslaved man Tice Davids fled from Kentucky into Ohio in 1831, and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his release. This was the first time the Underground Railroad was mentioned in print. In 1839, a Washington newspaper stated that an escaped enslaved man called Jim had divulged, after being tortured, his intention to go north through a “underground railroad to Boston” in order to avoid capture. After being established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard fugitive enslaved individuals from bounty hunters, Vigilance Committees quickly expanded its duties to include guiding runaway slaves.
It was by the 1840s that the phrase “Underground Railroad” had become commonplace in the United States. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ THESE STATEMENTS. Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad fugitives used the following strategies to get away.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
In his house in Rochester, New York, former enslaved person and celebrated author Frederick Douglasshid fugitives who were assisting 400 escapees in their journey to freedom in Canada. Reverend Jermain Loguen, a former fugitive who lived in the adjacent city of Syracuse, assisted 1,500 escapees on their journey north. The Vigilance Committee was established in Philadelphia in 1838 by Robert Purvis, an escaped enslaved person who later became a trader. Josiah Henson, a former enslaved person and railroad operator, founded the Dawn Institute in Ontario in 1842 to assist fugitive slaves who made their way to Canada in learning the necessary skills to find work.
Agent,” according to the document.
John Parker was a free Black man living in Ohio who worked as a foundry owner and who used his rowboat to ferry fugitives over the Ohio River.
William Still was a notable Philadelphia citizen who was born in New Jersey to runaway slaves parents who fled to Philadelphia as children.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Abolitionist John Brown worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and it was at this time that he founded the League of Gileadites, which was dedicated to assisting fleeing enslaved individuals in their journey to Canada. Abolitionist John Brown would go on to play a variety of roles during his life. His most well-known duty was conducting an assault on Harper’s Ferry in order to raise an armed army that would march into the deep south and free enslaved people at gunpoint. Ultimately, Brown’s forces were beaten, and he was executed for treason in 1859.
- The year 1844, he formed a partnership with Vermont schoolteacher Delia Webster, and the two were jailed for assisting an escaped enslaved lady and her young daughter.
- Charles Torrey was sentenced to six years in jail in Maryland for assisting an enslaved family in their attempt to flee through Virginia.
- After being apprehended in 1844 while transporting a boatload of freed slaves from the Caribbean to the United States, Massachusetts sea captain Jonathan Walker was sentenced to prison for life.
- John Fairfield of Virginia turned down the opportunity to assist in the rescue of enslaved individuals who had been left behind by their families as they made their way north.
- He managed to elude capture twice.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
During the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad came to an end about 1863. When it came to the Union fight against the Confederacy, its activity was carried out aboveground. This time around, Harriet Tubman played a critical role in the Union Army’s efforts to rescue the recently liberated enslaved people by conducting intelligence operations and serving in the role of leadership. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ THESE STATEMENTS. Harriet Tubman Led a Brutal Civil War Raid Following the Underground Railroad.
List of Sites for the Underground Railroad Travel Itinerary
|KANSAS 1.John Brown Cabin -Osawatomie 2.Fort Scott National Historic Site- Bourbon County|
|IOWA1.Tabor Antislavery Historic District -Tabor2. George B. Hitchcock House -Lewis vicinity3.Henderson Lewelling House -Salem4.Jordan House -West Des Moines|
|WISCONSIN 1.Milton House -Milton|
|ILLINOIS 1.Owen Lovejoy House -Princeton 2.John Hossack House -Ottawa3.Dr. Richard Eells House -Quincy 4.Beecher Hall -Jacksonville5.Rutherford House- Oakland|
|MICHIGAN1.Dr. Nathan Thomas House -Schoolcraft2.SecondBaptist Church -Detroit|
|INDIANA 1.Bethel AME Church -Indianapolis 2.Levi Coffin House -Fountain City 3.Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building -Lancaster4.Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House -Madison5.Madison Historic District -Madison|
|OHIO 1.Harriet Beecher Stowe House -Cincinnati2.JohnP. Parker House -Ripley3.John Rankin House -Ripley 4.Village of Mt. Pleasant Historic District -Mt. Pleasant 5.Wilson Bruce Evans House -Oberlin6.RushR. Sloane House -Sandusky7.Daniel Howell Hise House -Salem 8.Col. William Hubbard House -Ashtabula9. Reuben Benedict House -Marengo10.Samuel and SallyWilson House -Cincinnati11.James and Sophia ClemensFarmstead -Greenville12.Spring Hill -Massillon13.Putnam Historic District -Zanesville|
|PENNSYLVANIA 1.F. Julius LeMoyne House -Washington2.JohnBrown House -Chambersburg3.Bethel AME Zion Church -Reading 4.Oakdale -Chadds Ford5.White HorseFarm -Phoenixville6.Johnson House -Philadelphia|
|NEW YORK 1.Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, Residence and ThompsonAME Zion Church -Auburn 2.St. James AME Zion Church -Ithaca 3.Gerrit Smith Estate and Land Office -Peterboro 4.John Brown Farm and Gravesite -Lake Placid 5.Foster Memorial AME Zion Church -Tarrytown6.Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims -Brooklyn7.Asa and Caroline Wing House -Oswego8.Edwin W. and Charlotte Clarke House -Oswego9.John P. and Lydia Edwards House -Oswego10.Orson Ames House -Oswego11.Starr Clock Tinshop -Mexico|
|VERMONT 1.Rokeby -Ferrisburgh|
|MAINE 1.Harriet Beecher Stowe House -Brunswick2.Abyssinian Meeting House -Portland|
|MASSACHUSETTS 1.African American National Historic Site -Boston 2.WilliamLloyd Garrison House -Boston 3.William Ingersoll Bowditch House -Brookline4.The Wayside -Concord5.Liberty Farm -Worcester6.Nathan and Mary Johnson House -New Bedford7.Jackson Homestead -Newton8.Ross Farm (Hill Ross Farm)Northampton9.Dorsey-Jones House- Northampton10.Mount Auburn Cemetary -Cambridge|
|CONNECTICUT 1.Austin F. Williams Carriagehouse and House -Farmington|
|NEW JERSEY 1.The Grimes Homestead -Mountain Lakes2.PeterMott House -Lawnside Borough3.Bethel AME Church -Greenwich4.Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church and Mount ZionCemetery -Woolwich Township|
|DELAWARE 1.Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House -Odessa2.Friends Meeting House -Wilmington3.New Castle County Courthouse -New Castle|
|DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 1.Frederick Douglass National Historic Site 2.Mary Ann Shadd Cary House|
|MARYLAND 1.John Brown’s Headquarters -Sample’s Manor 2.Riley-Bolten House -North Bethesda|
|VIRGINIA 1.Bruin’s Slave Jail-Alexandria 2.Fort Monroe -Richmond3.Moncure Conway House -Falmouth4.Theodore Roosevelt Island- Rosslyn|
|WEST VIRGINIA1.Jefferson County Courthouse -Charles Town2.HarpersFerry National Historical Park -Harpers Ferry|
|FLORIDA 1.British Fort -Sumatra vicinity2.Ft.Mose Site -St. John’s County|
|COLORADO1.Barney L. Ford Building -Denver|
|NEBRASKA 1.Mayhew Cabin -Nebraska City|
|Kentucky 1.Camp Nelson -Jessamine County|
Main Map |Home
The Underground Railroad Route
Students will learn how to distinguish between slave states and free states during the time of the Underground Railroad, as well as the difficulties of escaping and choosing the path they would have chosen. Geography, Human Geography, and Physical Geography are the subjects covered. Students should be able to distinguish between slave and free states throughout the time of the Underground Railroad. Each pupil should be given a copy of the map titled “Routes to Freedom.” Inform pupils that the Underground Railroad aided enslaved individuals as they traveled from the South to the North during the American Civil War.
Afterwards, instruct pupils to locate each slave state on the map as you pronounce its name:
- sMontana This state does not display on the map since it is not included in the list. Make use of a wall map of the United States to instruct children on where Montana is located.) North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia are among the states represented.
Explain to pupils that enslaved individuals did not have access to maps, compasses, or GPS systems throughout their time in slavery. The majority of enslaved individuals were never permitted to get an education, and as a result, they were unable to read or write. Consider the following question: How do you suppose enslaved people knew they were heading in the correct direction? Students should be informed that enslaved individuals resorted to guides on the Underground Railroad, as well as memory, visuals, and spoken communication to survive.
- Talk about the difficulties you’ve encountered on your path.
- Instruct pupils to examine the map and make note of any physical characteristics of the region that made the voyage challenging.
- In order to demonstrate proper shading techniques, students should go to Alabama, then northeast via Maine and into Canada to see how the Applachian Mountains are shaded.
- Ask:Can you think of anything else that made the travel difficult?
- In the winter, being cold and outdoors
- Not having enough food
- Being exhausted yet unable to relax
- Having to swim or traverse bodies of water
- Having to travel great distances
- Evading or avoiding people or animals
3. Ask pupils to identify the route they would have chosen if they were in their shoes. Students should be divided into small groups. Ask each group to look at the map and choose the route they would have gone to freedom if they had been able to do so.
Students should choose their selections based on the states, rivers, and mountain ranges that they would have to cover on their journey. Ask each group to describe the path they would have followed and why they would have done so.
Students should discuss what they believe to be the most difficult obstacles to fleeing enslaved people, such as distance, weather, mountains, wildlife, bodies of water, or densely inhabited places, among other things. Inquire as to how their chosen method might have assisted enslaved individuals in avoiding the difficulties they were faced with.
Students will be able to:
- The student will be able to identify slave states and free states during the time period when the Underground Railroad was active
- Describe the difficulties encountered throughout the voyage
- Indicate the path they would have followed, and explain their reasons.
- Common Core Standard 1: How to interpret and share information via the use of maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technology, and spatial thinking
- Standard 17: How to use geography to understand and interpret the past.
What You’ll Need
- Highlighters, paper, pencils, and pens, as well as a wall map of the United States
- Internet access is optional
- Technological setup includes one computer per classroom and a projector.
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Naomi Friedman holds a Master’s degree in political science.
Professor of Political Science, Naomi Friedman, M.A.
Naomi Friedman has a Master’s degree in political science.
- Based on the National Geographic Xpeditions lesson “Finding Your Way: The Underground Railroad,” this activity was created. Permissions Granted to Users Users’ permissions are detailed in our Terms of Service, which you can see by clicking here. Alternatively, if you have any issues regarding how to reference something from our website in your project or classroom presentation, please speak with your instructor. They will be the most knowledgeable about the selected format. When you contact them, you will need to provide them with the page title, URL, and the date on which you visited the item.
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Pathways to Freedom
The Underground Railroad was a route from slavery to freedom in the north. It is possible that travellers will be halted when they reach a free state such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Ohio, although this is rare. After 1850, the majority of enslaved individuals who managed to flee made it all the way to Canada. They needed to travel to Canada in order to ensure their own safety. The reason for this was because in 1850, the United States Congress approved a statute known as the Fugitive Slave Act, which prohibited the sale of slaves abroad.
- Church in Philadelphia served as a vital station on the Underground Railroad as the “passengers” made their way north to freedom during the American Revolution.
- The Fugitive Slave Act was passed as part of the agreement.
- Most persons who want to flee the United States walked all the way to Canada after 1850 since it was unsafe to remain in free states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and even Massachusetts.
- What routes did the Underground Railroad take across Maryland, and how did they differ from one another?
See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.
Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.
In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.
The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.
When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television? Return to the past for the really American responses. Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.
Kids History: Underground Railroad
Civil War is a historical event that occurred in the United States. During the American Civil War, the phrase “Underground Railroad” was used to describe a network of persons, residences, and hiding places that slaves in the southern United States used to flee to freedom in the northern United States and Canada. Is it possible that there was a railroad? The Underground Railroad wasn’t truly a railroad in the traditional sense. It was the moniker given to the method by which individuals managed to flee.
- Conductors and stations are two types of conductors.
- Conductors were those who were in charge of escorting slaves along the path.
- Even those who volunteered their time and resources by donating money and food were referred to as shareholders.
- Who was employed by the railroad?
- Some of the Underground Railroad’s conductors were former slaves, such as Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery by way of the Underground Railroad and subsequently returned to assist other slaves in their escape.
- They frequently offered safe havens in their houses, as well as food and other supplies to those in need.
What mode of transportation did the people use if there was no railroad?
Slaves would frequently go on foot during the night.
The distance between stations was generally between 10 and 20 miles.
Was it a potentially hazardous situation?
There were those trying to help slaves escape, as well as those who were attempting to aid them.
In what time period did the Underground Railroad operate?
It reached its zenith in the 1850s, just before the American Civil War.
How many people were able to flee?
Over 100,000 slaves are said to have fled over the railroad’s history, with 30,000 escaping during the peak years before the Civil War, according to some estimates.
This resulted in a rule requiring that fugitive slaves who were discovered in free states be returned to their masters in the south.
Slaves were now had to be carried all the way to Canada in order to avoid being kidnapped once more by the British.
The abolitionist movement began with the Quakers in the 17th century, who believed that slavery was incompatible with Christian principles.
Ducksters’ Lewis Hayden House is located in the town of Lewis Hayden. The Lewis Hayden House functioned as a station on the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War. Information on the Underground Railroad that is both interesting and educational
- Slave proprietors wished to be free. Harriet Tubman, a well-known train conductor, was apprehended and imprisoned. They offered a $40,000 reward for information leading to her capture. That was a significant amount of money at the time
- Levi Coffin, a Quaker who is claimed to have assisted around 3,000 slaves in gaining their freedom, was a hero of the Underground Railroad. The most usual path for individuals to escape was up north into the northern United States or Canada, although some slaves in the deep south made their way to Mexico or Florida
- Canada was known to slaves as the “Promised Land” because of its promise of freedom. The Mississippi River was originally known as the “River Jordan” in the Bible
- Fleeing slaves were sometimes referred to as passengers or freight on railroads, in accordance with railroad nomenclature
- This page is the subject of a ten-question quiz
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- Learn about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad by reading this article.
HistoryCivil WarHistoryCivil War Works Cited
Underground Railroad – Ohio History Central
According to Ohio History Central This snapshot depicts the “Freedom Stairway,” which consists of one hundred stairs going from the Ohio River to the John Rankin House in Ripley, which served as a station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Presbyterian clergyman and educator John Rankin (1793-1886) spent most of his time working for the abolitionist anti-slavery struggle. The home features various secret rooms, some of which were used to hide freedom fighters. An illuminated sign was erected in front of the home to signal that it was safe for anyone seeking freedom to approach it.
- An underground railroad system of safe homes and hiding places that assisted freedom seekers on their journeys to freedom in Canada, Mexico, and other countries outside of the United States was known as the Underground Railroad (UR).
- Although it is unknown when the Underground Railroad had its start, members of the Society of Friends, often known as the Quakers, were actively supporting freedom seekers as early as the 1780s, according to historical records.
- As early as the late 1700s, slavery was outlawed in the vast majority of Northern states.
- African Americans were forced to flee the United States in order to genuinely achieve their freedom.
- Despite the fact that slavery was outlawed in Ohio, some individuals were still opposed to the abolition of the institution.
- Many of these individuals were adamantly opposed to the Underground Railroad.
- Other people attempted to restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners in the aim of receiving prizes for their efforts.
Over three thousand slaves were rescued from their captors and granted freedom in Canada thanks to the efforts of Levi Coffin, a Cincinnati man who lived in the late 1840s and early 1850s.
His house was perched on a three hundred-foot-high hill with a panoramic view of the Ohio River.
He gave the freedom seekers with sanctuary and kept them hidden until it was safe for them to proceed farther north in their quest for independence.
These individuals, as well as a large number of others, put their lives in danger to aid African Americans in their journey to freedom.
They typically chose to live in communities where there were other African Americans.
A total of eight communities along the Lake Erie shoreline served as embarkation locations for the freedom seekers’ journey to Canada, including Ashtabula, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Huron, Lorain, Conneaut, and Conneaut.
It is still unknown exactly how the Underground Railroad came to be known by that moniker.
In 1831, a freedom seeker called Tice Davids fled from his slave owners in Kentucky, where he had been held since birth.
Davids had arrived at the coast only a few minutes before him. Following the arrival of his boat, the holder was unable to locate Davids and concluded that he “must have gone off on a subterranean path.”
- According to the Ohio History Central website. Photo of the “Freedom Stairway,” which consists of one hundred stairs that go from the Ohio River to the John Rankin House in Ripley, which served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. John Rankin (1793-1886) was a Presbyterian preacher and educator who spent a significant portion of his life to the antislavery cause. The mansion features multiple secret rooms, some of which were used to hide freedom fighters during the American Revolution. An illuminated sign was set in front of the home to signal that it was safe for anyone seeking freedom to enter the building. As a museum, the John Rankin House is a component of the Ohio History Connection’s state-wide network of historic sites, which includes the John Rankin House. Known as the Underground Railroad, it was a network of safe homes and hiding places that assisted freedom seekers on their journeys to freedom in areas such as Canada, Mexico, and other countries other than the United States. Freedom seekers were guided from place to place by white and African-American “conductors,” who were both white and black. Despite the fact that it is unknown when the Underground Railroad had its start, members of the Society of Friends, popularly known as the Quakers, were actively aiding slaves as early as the 1780s. By the 1810s, a small number of citizens in Ohio were assisting freedom fighters. As early as the late 1700s, slavery was outlawed in the vast majority of northern states. But even if freedom seekers relocated to a free state, the United States Constitution as well as the Freedom Seeker Law of 1793 and the Freedom Seeker Law of 1850 allowed slave owners to recover their property from them. Afro-Americans had to leave the United States in order to genuinely achieve their independence. Some Underground Railroad stations developed as a consequence, and these could be found across Ohio and other free states, providing freedom seekers with safe havens while on their trip to Canada. Some people in Ohio resisted the abolition of slavery despite the fact that slavery was illegal in the state. People in this community thought former slaves would relocate to the state, steal employment away from the white population, and demand similar rights as whites. There were a lot of people that were against the Underground Railroad. Conductors came under attack from a number of passengers. Other people attempted to restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners in the aim of receiving rewards for their actions. Ohio was home to a number of renowned abolitionists who played an important part in the Underground Railroad network. Over three thousand slaves were rescued from their captors and granted freedom in Canada because to the efforts of Levi Coffin, a Cincinnati citizen who lived in the late 1840s. Abolitionists dubbed Coffin the “president of the Underground Railroad” as a result of his efforts on their behalf. African Americans seeking freedom were accommodated at the home of John Rankin, a Presbyterian preacher serving in Ripley as a conductor. A three-hundred-foot-high hill overlooking the Ohio River served as the setting for his mansion. He used a lamp to indicate freedom seekers in Kentucky when it was safe to cross the Ohio River, and he would tell them when it was not. He offered sanctuary for the freedom searchers and kept them hidden until it was safe for them to proceed farther north. When John Parker, Rankin’s next-door neighbor, took a boat across the Ohio River, he transported hundreds of slave fugitives. In order to aid African Americans in their journey to freedom, these men and a large number of others endangered their lives. A number of the freedom seekers chose to remain in Ohio when they arrived there. In most cases, they chose to live in communities with other African Americans. Many of the freedom seekers carried on to Canada after their initial stop in the country. A total of eight communities along the Lake Erie shoreline served as embarkation locations for the freedom seekers’ journey to Canada, including Ashtabula, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Huron, Lorain, and Conneaut. Wilbur Siebert, a historian, estimated that Ohio had around three thousand miles of Underground Railroad pathways. Uncertainty persists as to how the Underground Railroad came to be known by its current name. A story involving Ohio is one such example of this. When Tice Davids fled from his slave owners in Kentucky in 1831, he became known as the “Freedom Seeker.” A boat chased after Davids as he swam across the Ohio River. His holder was close behind him. Just a few minutes before him, Davids arrived at the shoreline. When Davids failed to appear after landing his boat, the holder concluded that he “must have used a subterranean path.”
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.
- 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.
Fugitive slaves who wanted to escape to freedom had a long and risky trip ahead of them on the Underground Railroad. It was necessary for runaway slaves to travel great distances in a short period of time, sometimes on foot. They did this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were following after them in the streets. The pursuit of fleeing slaves was not limited to slave owners. For the purpose of enticing people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters promising cash to anybody who assisted in the capture of their property.
- Numerous apprehended fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were captured.
- In order to live lengthy amounts of time in the wilderness, people would have to battle off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them, navigate dangerous terrain, and contend with extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the apprehension of fugitive slaves since they were viewed as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the terms of the legislation.
- Only after crossing into Canadian territory would they find safety and liberty.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south from the United States to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- The man was apprehended at his northern residence, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this law.
- Then, following the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the South, from which he had believed himself to have fled.
Both the American Memory and America’s Library divisions of the Libray of Congress are located in Washington, DC.
Frederick Douglass was yet another fugitive slave who managed to flee from his master’s grasp.
He pretended to be a sailor, but it was not enough to fool the authorities into believing he was one.
Fortunately, the train conductor did not pay careful attention to Douglass’ documents, and he was able to board the train and travel to his final destination of liberty.
Although some were successful in escaping slavery, many of those who did were inspired to share their experiences with those who were still enslaved and to assist other slaves who were not yet free.
Another escaping slave, Henry “Box” Brown, managed to get away in a different fashion.
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 wide, and weighed two pounds. His singing was heard as soon as he was freed from the box.
Efforts of Abolitionists Telling Their Story:Fugitive Slave Narratives
Traveling via the Underground Railroad to seek freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, often on foot, in a short period of time. They managed to do so despite having little or no food and little protection from the slave catchers who were pursuing them. Slave owners were not the only ones who pursued escaped slaves; there were others as well. In order to persuade people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters promising cash in exchange for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Many arrested fugitive slaves were whipped, branded, incarcerated, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed after being apprehended.
- While journeying for extended periods of time in the wilderness, they would have to battle off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them, cross dangerous terrain, and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the apprehension of fugitive slaves since they were viewed as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the terms of the law.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed into Canada.
- Other Underground Railroad networks ran south from the United States to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was abducted from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this statute.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the South, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’s American Memory and America’s Library.
Frederick Douglass was yet another fugitive slave who managed to flee from his enslavement.
He pretended to be a sailor, but this was not enough to fool them.
Fortunately, the train conductor did not pay careful attention to the documents, and Douglass was able to make his way to freedom.
However, many of those who managed to flee slavery went on to recount their experiences of freedom and to assist other slaves who were still enslaved.
Another escaping slave, Henry “Box” Brown, managed to get away in a quite different method.
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 broad. When he was let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
Underground Railroad in Iowa
Initially funded by the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom program in 2002, the Iowa Network to Freedom project, which investigated persons and locations involved with the Underground Railroad in Iowa, became the Iowa Freedom Trail Project in 2003. After a five-year period of grant funding, volunteers have continued to collect information from historical resources and compile it into a form containing general information, such as biographical data, resource references, associated properties, and researcher information, among other things, to be used by the public.
- Initially funded by the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom program in 2002, the Iowa Network to Freedom project, which investigated persons and locations involved with the Underground Railroad in Iowa, became the Iowa Freedom Trail Project in 2004. Grant funding came to an end in 2013, but volunteers are still collecting information from historical resources and compiling it into a form that contains general information, such as biographical data, resource references, associated properties, and information about the researchers who conducted the research. The material is available in the State Historical Building’s Library and Archives Research Center, which is located on the second floor.
If you have any concerns concerning the Iowa Freedom Trail Project, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Researching Underground Railroad Activity
Since 2002, volunteers at the State Historical Society of Iowa have been doing research into the Underground Railroad’s presence in the state. The research and biographical form instructions can be found here. If you are interested in researching Underground Railroad activity in Iowa and have access to historical documents and primary sources, please review the instructions for submitting a research and biographical form to learn how you can contribute to the project.
- Instructions for the Research and Biographical Form
- Biographical Form
- Sample Biographical Form
- Biographical Form
Iowa and the Underground Railroad
Beginning in the late 1700s and continuing until the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the Underground Railroad was a network of people who assisted runaway slaves in their attempts to escape slavery. It included both northern and southern states, spanning from Texas all the way up to Maine. The vast majority of runaway slaves fled to Canada from the Deep South, although a minor number journeyed further south to Mexico and the Caribbean. Due to the fact that slaves were considered property in the United States at the time, helping runaway slaves was deemed larceny under American law at the time.
Prior to the American Revolution, slavery was lawful across the British Empire, including the United States.
These principles would transform the lives of black people, and many of them fought in the American Revolution in the hope that these rights would be given to them as well.
Vermont became the first state in the new United States of America to pass anti-slavery legislation after the British were defeated in the Revolutionary War in 1777.
Apart from that, there were no laws in the newly created United States that forced civilians to return fugitive slaves to their owners.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and Article IV, section 2 of the United States Constitution both stated similar views on the subject at the time.
Taking it a step further, the Fleeing Slave Act of 1850 declared aiding and abetting fugitive slaves a federal felony punishable by penalties or jail.
As the Underground Railroad network began to take shape, people began to fill a number of positions inside it.
Fugitive slaves were often referred to as passengers, cargo, fleece, or freight when they were on the run.
Others choose to play a more passive role.
The modes of transportation used varied from one region to the next, and were mostly determined by concealment and closeness to slave hunters.
In contrast to this, the majority of fleeing slaves travelled at night, particularly in towns with ambivalent sentiments regarding slavery.
In the middle of the night, conductors would walk or ride horses to the next station to transport them.
Because of its physical proximity between Missouri, a slave state to the south, and Illinois, a free state to the east, Iowa saw a substantial amount of Underground Railroad activity during this period.
That meant that when Iowa became a state in the Union in 1846, it would be a free state.
Most fugitive slaves crossed through Iowa on their route to other free states farther north or to Canada, where Britain would protect them from being arrested and returned to slavery.
Southeastern Iowa was also home to a large number of fugitive slaves from northern Missouri who were making their way to the Mississippi River and Illinois.
Numerous Iowans also became involved in the growing political opposition to the expansion of slavery into the Kansas and Nebraska Territories, which culminated in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and granted Kansas and Nebraska the authority to determine their own slave-holding status.
You may get further information about the history of the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movements in Iowa and other states by clicking here. Take a look at the resources listed below.
- The John Brown Freedom Trail (1859)
- Abolitionist Movement Primary Sources
- Underground Railroad Primary Sources
- Underground Railroad Sites in the Iowa Culture mobile app