There were many well-used routes stretching west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa. Others headed north through Pennsylvania and into New England or through Detroit on their way to Canada.
Where did the Underground Railroad slaves settle?
As a result, great numbers of enslaved freedom seekers made their way to Amherstburg. The famous abolitionist Levi Coffin, during a tour of Upper Canada in 1844, described Amherstburg as the principal terminal settlement in Canada of the Underground Railroad.
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.
What was the path of the Underground Railroad?
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.
Why did slaves go to the Ohio River?
For many enslaved people the Ohio River was more than a body of water. Crossing it was a huge step on the path to freedom. Serving as natural border between free and slave states, individuals opposed to slavery set up a network of safe houses to assist escaped slaves seeking freedom.
Did Harriet Tubman live in Canada?
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 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.
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 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.
How were runaway slaves caught?
Other slaves seeking freedom relied upon canoes. Some runaways pretended to be free blacks, Native Americans, or whites. Runaway slaves who were caught typically were whipped and sometimes shackled. Some masters sold recovered runaway slaves who repeatedly defied their efforts at control.
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.
What were some of the routes slaves took to get from the south to the north?
During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North.
How many Underground Railroad routes were there?
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.
What state ended slavery first?
In 1780, Pennsylvania became the first state to abolish slavery when it adopted a statute that provided for the freedom of every slave born after its enactment (once that individual reached the age of majority). Massachusetts was the first to abolish slavery outright, doing so by judicial decree in 1783.
Which state has the most underground railroads?
Although there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, even in the South, Ohio had the most active network of any other state with around 3000 miles of routes used by escaping runaways.
Was there ever a real underground railroad?
Nope! Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a railroad in the way Amtrak or commuter rail is. It wasn’t even a real railroad. The Underground Railroad of history was simply a loose network of safe houses and top secret routes to states where slavery was banned.
The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico
The Underground Railroad went both north and south along the length of the city. In the eyes of enslaved people in Texas, Canada must have appeared like an impossibly distant dream. Slavery was, fortunately, prohibited in Mexico as well. According to Maria Hammack, who is doing her dissertation on this issue at the University of Texas at Austin, researchers estimate that 5,000 to 10,000 persons escaped from bondage and entered Mexico during this period. However, she believes that the true figure might be far higher.
As a result, most individuals didn’t leave many documents.
Hammack has also identified a Black lady and two white males who assisted enslaved people in escaping and attempting to locate them a new home in Mexico, according to the report.
- Slavery was reinstated once the Republic of Texas was established in 1836, and it remained lawful after Texas became a state of the United States in 1845.
- Hammack has tracked down a fugitive called Tom who had been enslaved by Sam Houston and freed him.
- Once Tom crossed the border, he enlisted with the Mexican military, whom Houston had fought against previously.
- A few chose to walk, while others chose to ride horses or slipped aboard ships destined for Mexican port cities.
- Even if this wasn’t technically conceivable, the vision of floating to freedom on a ship that represented enslavement was powerful and compelling.
- “I’ve discovered folks who have traveled from as far away as North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama,” Hammack adds.
- In the same way that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 obliged free states to return escapees to the southern United States, the United States desired that Mexico return fugitive enslaved persons to the United States.
Despite this, some owners of enslaved individuals in the United States continued to pay slave catchers to unlawfully grab fugitives in Mexico.
According to Hammack, some enslaved persons may have been able to make their way to Mexico on their own.
The Runaway Slave Act enhanced federal and free-state responsibilities for the recapture of fugitive slaves by establishing federal commissioners who were empowered to issue arrest warrants for those slaves fleeing to other countries.
Matilda Hicks, the husband’s wife, was a formerly enslaved lady.
Additionally, some northern abolitionists came south to assist enslaved persons in their attempts to reach Mexico.
Quakerabolitionist Benjamin Lundy “was aggressively appealing the Mexican authorities to allow for colonies to be founded for, I guess what we would term refugees” in the early 1830s, according to a contemporary account.
A few years later, in 1852, Seminole organizations, which included fugitive enslaved people, were successful in their plea to the Mexican authorities for more territory.
“It is still in the possession of their ancestors, who continue to reside there to this day in Mexico,” Hammack explains. Those who fled slavery through the “underground railroad” in the southern United States, as well as other refugees, profited from Mexico’s readiness to provide a safe haven.
The Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals – many whites but predominently black – who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. Still, it effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year – according to one estimate,the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850. An organized system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes.” The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed “The Underground Railroad,” after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called “stations” and “depots” and were run by “stationmasters,” those who contributed money or goods were “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.For the slave, running away to the North was anything but easy. The first step was to escape from the slaveholder. For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources. Sometimes a “conductor,” posing as a slave, would enter a plantation and then guide the runaways northward. The fugitives would move at night. They would generally travel between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, hiding in barns and other out-of-the-way places. While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its stationmaster.The fugitives would also travel by train and boat – conveyances that sometimes had to be paid for. Money was also needed to improve the appearance of the runaways – a black man, woman, or child in tattered clothes would invariably attract suspicious eyes. This money was donated by individuals and also raised by various groups, including vigilance committees.Vigilance committees sprang up in the larger towns and cities of the North, most prominently in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. In addition to soliciting money, the organizations provided food, lodging and money, and helped the fugitives settle into a community by helping them find jobs and providing letters of recommendation.The Underground Railroad had many notable participants, including John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.|
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.
The commencement of the American Civil War occurred around 1862.
Harriet Tubman is a historical figure. William Still is a well-known author and poet. Levi Coffin is a fictional character created by author Levi Coffin. John Fairfield is a well-known author.
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
A “conductor,” who pretended to be a slave, would sometimes accompany fugitives to a plantation in order to direct 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 the lives of those who lost hope and sought to return to slavery. The Underground Railroad’s operators faced their own set of perils while they worked. In the North, if someone 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 operated in full view of the general public.
His position as the most prominent commander of the Underground Railroad in and around Albany grew as time went along.
However, in other eras of American history, the term “vigilance committee” was frequently used to refer to citizen groups that took the law into their own hands, prosecuting and lynching people accused of crimes when no local authority existed or when they believed that authority was corrupt or insufficient.
Stricter punishments were meted out to white males who assisted slaves in escaping than to white women, but both were likely to face at the very least incarceration.
The most severe punishments, such as hundreds of lashing with a whip, burning, or hanging, were reserved for any blacks who were discovered in the process of assisting fugitive fugitives on the run.
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.
North Star to Freedom (U.S. National Park Service)
Harriet Tubman as a young woman, around 1860s, seen in a seated picture. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. The National Park Service tells the story of Harriet Tubman, a former slave who became an abolitionist, the Underground Railroad, and the many great Americans who lived throughout the 1800s whose daring deeds carried slaves to freedom and contributed to the abolition of slavery. The National Park Service (NPS) looks on the significance of the night sky in the lives of the founding fathers of our country as we commemorate our nation’s freedom.
- Traveling under the cover of darkness generally provided the finest opportunities for escape.
- The capacity of a runaway to safely get to a safe house, railroad station, or the woods without the aid of these equipment was frequently a matter of life and death.
- NPS According to slave legend, the North Star played an important role in assisting slaves in their quest for freedom, serving as a light to the true north.
- This item’s form is similar to a dipping ladle or drinking gourd, as implied by its name.
- For millennia, celestial navigation knowledge (navigating by studying the stars and other patterns in the night sky) was passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition.
- Slaves were able to navigate their path without becoming disoriented as a result of this information.
- Many slave narratives and ballads made use of the Big Dipper and the North Star as symbols of freedom.
- The night sky is a canvas of storytelling that connects us to our ancestors and their history.
When you look up at the night sky, remember the story of the drinking gourd and those early Americans who placed their lives on the promise of freedom on a star. Follow the sheet music and fragments of the Drinking Gourd. The Texas Folklore Society was founded in 1928.
Follow the Drinking Gourd
Harriet Tubman as a young woman, roughly 1860s, shown in a seated position. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (also known as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)) The National Park Service tells the story of Harriet Tubman, a former slave who became an abolitionist, the Underground Railroad, and the many great Americans who lived throughout the 1800s and whose bold efforts helped slaves escape and bring slavery to an end. The National Park Service (NPS) looks on the significance of the night sky in the lives of the founding fathers of our country as we commemorate our nation’s independence day on July 4.
- Escaping under the cover of darkness was frequently the most effective strategy for many people.
- The capacity of a runaway to safely get to a safe house, railroad station, or the woods was frequently a matter of life and death without the assistance of these instruments.
- NPS According to slave legend, the North Star played an important role in assisting slaves in their quest for liberation, serving as a light to the true north and freedom.
- A dipping ladle or drinking gourd, as the name suggests, is the form of this vessel.
- From generation to generation, celestial navigation expertise (navigating by studying the stars and other night sky patterns) has been passed down for millenia.
- Slaves were able to navigate their way through the forest without becoming disoriented because of this information.
- Numerous slave legends and hymns made use of the Big Dipper and the North Star.
- A canvas of stories, the night sky serves as a link between ourselves and our ancestors.
Remember the story of the drinking gourd and those early Americans who risked their lives on a star the next time you look up at the night sky and look up at the night sky. Follow the sheet music for the Drinking Gourd fragment. In 1928, the Texas Folklore Society published a publication titled
- A seated photograph of a young Harriet Tubman, perhaps taken in the 1860s. The Library of Congress is a government-run institution that collects and organizes information. The National Park Service tells the story of Harriet Tubman, a former slave who became an abolitionist, the Underground Railroad, and the many great Americans who lived throughout the 1800s whose daring deeds carried slaves to freedom and helped bring slavery to an end. As we commemorate our nation’s independence, the National Park Service (NPS) considers the importance that the night sky had in the lives of our forefathers. The most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, inspired many enslaved Americans in the southern United States to seek freedom in the northern United States prior to the American Civil War. Traveling under the cover of darkness typically provided the best chances of escape capture. Most slaves, on the other hand, did not have maps or compasses to direct them. The capacity of a runaway to safely get to a safe house, railroad station, or the woods without the aid of these equipment was frequently a matter of life or death. Illustration of the Big Dipper, often known as the Drinking Gourd, in the night sky, in relation to the North Star and the Little Dipper. NPS According to slave legend, the North Star played an important role in guiding slaves to their destination—a light to the true north and the promise of freedom. Escaped slaves may locate it by looking for the Big Dipper, a well-known asterism that is most visible in the night sky during the winter and spring months. As the name says, the form of the gourd is similar to that of a dipping ladle. The North Star may be determined from the gourd’s shape by drawing a straight line five times the distance between the outermost stars of the bowl. For millennia, celestial navigation knowledge (navigating by watching the stars and other patterns in the night sky) was passed down from generation to generation via the generations. “Reading” the night sky gave significant indications for survival for slaves who were unable to read or write. This knowledge assisted slaves in navigating their journey without becoming disoriented. Many former slaves, including historical people like as Harriet Tubman, relied on the celestial gourd, sometimes known as the dipper, to direct them on their northern trek. Many slave narratives and songs made use of the Big Dipper and the North Star as symbols. It was based on these accounts that a popular African American folksong, Follow the Drinking Gourd, was produced decades after the War and remembered the significance of these stars. The night sky is a tapestry of stories that connects us to the past and the present. National parks are among the greatest sites to see the stars and hear these stories, and they are also some of the most accessible. When you look up at the night sky, remember the story of the drinking gourd and those early Americans who risked their lives on a shooting star. Take a look at the Drinking Gourd sheet music and fragments. The Texas Folklore Society was established in 1928.
Julie West, Communications Specialist for the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, contributed to this article.
Julie West, Communications Specialist of the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, contributed to this article.
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.”
From the Ohio History Central website This shot depicts 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 station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Presbyterian clergyman and educator John Rankin (1793-1886) spent most of his life working for the abolition of slavery. The home features various secret chambers, some of which were used to conceal freedom fighters. A light was put in the window of the residence to signal to freedom seekers that it was safe to approach.
- The Underground Railroad was a network of safe homes and hiding places that assisted freedom seekers on their route to freedom in Canada, Mexico, and other countries outside of the United States.
- Although its origins are uncertain, members of the Society of Friends (commonly known as the Quakers) were actively supporting freedom seekers as early as the 1780s.
- During the late 1700s, most Northern states had passed legislation prohibiting slavery.
- African Americans were forced to flee the United States in order to achieve true freedom.
- Despite the fact that slavery was prohibited in Ohio, some individuals were still opposed to the abolition of slavery.
- Many of these individuals were staunch opponents of the Underground Railroad.
- Others attempted to restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners in the expectation of receiving rewards.
Levi Coffin, a Cincinnati native who lived in the late 1840s, was instrumental in assisting more than 3000 slaves escape from their masters and win their freedom in Canada.
His house was 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.
These individuals, as well as a large number of others, put their lives in danger to aid African Americans in their journey to freedom.
In most cases, they chose to live in communities populated by other African Americans.
A total of eight communities along the Lake Erie shoreline were used as starting sites for the transportation of freedom seekers to Canada, including Ashtabula, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Huron, Lorain, and Conneaut.
It is still unknown how the Underground Railroad came to be known as such.
During the year 1831, a freedom seeker by the name of Tice Davids escaped from his slave owner in Kentucky.
Davids had arrived at the coast only a few minutes before he did. Following the docking of his boat, the holder was unable to locate Davids, and concluded that he “must have gone off on a subterranean path.”
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape harsh living conditions in their home countries. They required daring and cunning in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters’ possession. Southerners were extremely resentful of people in the North who helped the slaves in their plight. They invented the name “Underground Railroad” to refer to a well-organized network dedicated to keeping slaves away from their masters, which occasionally extended as far as crossing the Canadian border.
In 1850, Congress created the Fugitive Slave Law, which imposed severe fines on anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee.
Underground Railroad “Stations” Develop in Iowa
Iowa shares a southern border with Missouri, which was a slave state during the American Civil War. The abolitionist movement (those who desired to abolish slavery) built a system of “stations” in the 1840s and 1850s that could transport runaways from the Mississippi River to Illinois on their route to freedom. Activists from two religious movements, the Congregationalists and the Quakers, played crucial roles in the abolitionist movement. They were also involved in the Underground Railroad’s operations in the state of New York.
- According to one source, there are more than 100 Iowans who are participating in the endeavor.
- The Hitchcock House, located in Cass County near Lewis, is another well-known destination on the Underground Railroad in one form or another.
- George Hitchcock escorted “passengers” to the next destination on his route.
- Several of these locations are now public museums that are available to the general public.
- Individual families also reacted when they were approached for assistance.
- When the Civil War broke out and the Fugitive Slave Law could no longer be enforced in the northern states, a large number of slaves fled into the state and eventually settled there permanently.
Iowa became the first state to offer black males the right to vote in 1868. It was determined that segregated schools and discrimination in public accommodations were both unconstitutional in Iowa by the Supreme Court.
Iowa: A Free State Willing to Let Slavery Exist
Slavery has been a contentious topic in the United States since its inception, and it continues to be so today. As new states entered the Union, the early fights did not revolve over slavery in the South but rather its expansion. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 created an east-west line along the southern boundary of Missouri, which would remain in place for the rest of time, separating free and slave settlement. States to the south may legalize slavery, whilst states to the north (with the exception of slave state Missouri) were prohibited from doing so.
- The majority of Iowans were ready to allow slavery to continue in the South.
- They enacted legislation in an attempt to deter black people from settling in the state.
- Iowa did have a tiny community of abolitionists who believed that slavery was a moral wrong that should be abolished everywhere.
- This increased the likelihood that Nebraska, which borders Iowa on its western border, would become a slave state.
- The Republican Party has evolved as a staunch opponent of any future expansion of slavery into western areas in the United States.
- Slavery has been a source of contention in the United States since its founding. As new states entered the Union, the early fights did not revolve over slavery in the South but rather its spread. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 created an east-west line along the southern border of Missouri, dividing the state’s free and slave settlements for the rest of time. Southern states could legalize slavery, whereas northern states (apart from Missouri, which was a slave state at the time) could not. Iowa would be a free state, as the settlers anticipated. Despite the fact that slavery continued to exist in the South, the majority of Iowans were not against it. They held the belief in the supremacy of the white race, as did the majority of white Americans at the time, and were opposed to allowing African Americans equal rights and opportunity. They enacted legislation in an attempt to deter black people from settling in the state, which failed. Most importantly, they wished to find compromises that would allow the Union to remain together on a national level, An abolitionist movement existed in Iowa, but it was a tiny group of people who wished to see slavery abolished worldwide as a moral wrong. Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 granted the right to settler communities in new territories to determine whether or not to legalize slavery in their territories. Iowa’s western border state of Nebraska might potentially become a slave state as a result of this decision. The vast majority of Iowans were opposed to the idea of a nuclear power plant in their state. A significant opposition to any further expansion of slavery into western lands has evolved among members of the Republican Party.
How did runaway slaves rely on the help of abolitionists to escape to freedom?
- Article from the Anti-Slavery Bugle titled “William and Ellen Craft,” published on February 23, 1849 (Document)
- Anti-Slavery Bugle Article titled “Underground Railroad,” published on September 16, 1854 (Document)
- “A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article published on November 8, 1855 (Document)
- William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, circa 1890 (Image)
How did some runaway slaves create their own opportunities to escape?
- A newspaper article entitled “The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry Box Brown” published on June 23, 1849 (Document)
- The Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, published in 1850 (Image, Document)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” illustration published in 1850 (Image)
- Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” published on June 14, 1862 (Do
$200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847
- After escaping enslavement, many people depended on northern whites to guide them securely to the northern free states and eventually to Canadian territory. For someone who had previously been forced into slavery, life may be quite perilous. There were incentives for capturing them, as well as adverts such as the one seen below for a prize. More information may be found here.
“Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Illustration, 1850
- Once freed from slavery, many people looked to northern whites to guide them securely to the northern free states and eventually to Canadian territory. Having previously been in slavery was extremely risky. For their capture, there were awards and marketing, such as the poster seen below, to encourage them. More information may be found at:
Fugitive Slave Law, 1850
- As a result of the Fleeing Slave Law of 1850, it became unlawful for anybody in the northern United States to aid fugitive slaves in their quest for freedom. This statute supplemented the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act with additional clauses addressing runaways, and it imposed even harsher sanctions for interfering with their escape. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “William and Ellen Craft,” February 23, 1849
- In this article from the abolitionist newspaper, The Anti-Slavery Bugle, the story of Ellen and William Craft’s emancipation from slavery is described in detail. Ellen disguised herself as a man in order to pass as the master, while her husband, William, pretended to be her servant as they made their way out of the building. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “Underground Railroad,” September 16, 1854
- The Anti-Slavery Bugle article indicates the number of runaway slaves in northern cities in 1854, based on a survey conducted by the organization. This group contained nine slaves from Boone County, Kentucky, who were seeking refuge in the United States. Their captors were said to be on the lookout for them in Cincinnati, and they were found. More information may be found here.
“A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article, November 8, 1855
- This newspaper story was written in Fayettville, Tennessee, in 1855 and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a priest in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article details his ordeal in detail. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting escaped slaves on their way to freedom. More information may be found here.
William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, 1890
- It was published in the Fayetteville, Tennessee, newspaper in 1855, and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a clergyman in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article tells what happened. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting fugitive slaves on their way out of the country. More information may be found at:
“Fugitive Slave Case Was Tried” – A Daily Gate City Article, April 13, 1915
- This story, which was published in the Keokuk, Iowa, newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915, is about a trial that took place in Burlington in 1850. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had fled from Missouri and had worked for him as slaves. More information may be found here.
“The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” Article, June 23, 1849
- It was published in the Keokuk, Iowa newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915 and is about a trial that took place in Burlington, Iowa, in 1850 and was published in The Daily Gate City. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had escaped from Missouri and had been working for him. More information may be found at:
Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, 1850
- Image of the engraving on the box that Henry “Box” Brown built and used to send himself to freedom in Virginia. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. There is a label on the box that says “Right side up with care.” During his first appearance out of the box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the attached song, Henry “Box” Brown sang a song that is included here. More information may be found here.
“The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” Illustration, 1850
- Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped from Richmond, Virginia, in a box measuring three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two and a half feet broad, is depicted in a somewhat comical but sympathetic manner in this artwork. In the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s administrative offices. More information may be found here.
Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” June 14, 1862
- The escape of Robert Smalls and other members of his family and friends from slavery was chronicled in detail in an article published in Harper’s Weekly. Smalls was an enslaved African American who acquired freedom during and after the American Civil War and went on to work as a ship’s pilot on the high seas. More information may be found here.
“A Bold Stroke for Freedom” Illustration, 1872
- The image from 1872 depicts African Americans, most likely fleeing slaves, standing in front of a wagon and brandishing firearms towards slave-catchers. A group of young enslaved persons who had escaped from Loudon by wagon are said to be shown in the cartoon on Christmas Eve in 1855, when patrollers caught up with them. More information may be found here.
- Harriet Tubman Day is observed annually on March 31. The statement issued by the State of Delaware on the observance of Harriet Ross Tubman Day on March 10, 2017 may be seen on the website. Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long both signed the statement. Harriet Tubman – A Guide to Online Resources A wide range of material linked with Harriet Tubman may be found in these digital collections from the Library of Congress, which include manuscripts, pictures, and publications. It is the goal of this guide to consolidate connections to digital materials about Harriet Tubman that are available throughout the Library of Congress website. Scenes from Harriet Tubman’s Life and Times The website, which is accessible through the Digital Public Library of America, contains portions from the novel Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, written by Sarah Bradford in 1869 and published by the American Library Association.
- Maryland’s Pathways to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in the State of Maryland On this page, you can find primary materials pertaining to Maryland and the Underground Railroad. Information from three former slaves, Samuel Green, Phoebe Myers, and others is included in this collection. “The Underground Railroad: A Secret History” by Eric Foner is a book on the history of the Underground Railroad. The author of this piece from The Atlantic discusses the “secret history” of the Underground Railroad, which he believes reveals that the network was not nearly as secretive as many people believe. Emancipation of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery According to “Documenting the American South,” this webpage focuses on how slaves William and Ellen Craft escaped from Georgia and sought asylum and freedom in the United States’ northern states.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (8th Grade)
The content anchor requirements for Iowa Core Social Studies that are most accurately reflected in this source collection are listed below. The subject requirements that have been implemented to this set are appropriate for middle school pupils and cover the major areas that make up social studies for eighth grade students in the United States.
- S.8.13.Explain the rights and obligations of people, political parties, and the media in the context of a range of governmental and nonprofit organizations and institutions. (Skills for the twenty-first century)
- SS.8.19.Explain how immigration and migration were influenced by push and pull influences in early American history. SS.8.21.Examine the relationships and linkages between early American historical events and developments in the context of wider historical settings
- In your explanation of how and why prevalent social, cultural, and political viewpoints altered over early American history, please include the following information: SS.8.23.Explain the numerous causes, impacts, and changes that occurred in early American history
- And The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the Monroe Doctrine, the Indian Removal Act, the Missouri Compromise, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo are examples of primary and secondary sources of information that should be critiqued with consideration for the source of the document, its context, accuracy, and usefulness.
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.