Before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad was primarily run, maintained, and funded by African Americans. Wealthier and educated blacks, such as Philadelphians Robert Purvis and William Whipper, offered leadership and legal assistance.
Who was the most famous person on the Underground Railroad?
- Harriet Tubman, the Moses of her people. Harriet Tubman is the most widely recognized symbol of the Underground Railroad. When she escaped on September 17, 1849, Tubman was aided by members of the Underground Railroad.
Who financed the Underground Railroad?
5: Buying Freedom Meanwhile, so-called “stockholders” raised money for the Underground Railroad, funding anti-slavery societies that provided ex-slaves with food, clothing, money, lodging and job-placement services. At times, abolitionists would simply buy an enslaved person’s freedom, as they did with Sojourner Truth.
What was the Underground Railroad It helped 100000 slaves to escape?
Established in the early 1800s and aided by people involved in the Abolitionist Movement, the underground railroad helped thousands of slaves escape bondage. By one estimate, 100,000 slaves escaped from bondage in the South between 1810 and 1850.
Did Harriet Tubman own slaves?
While it is true Tubman did free slaves — estimated around 70 during her 13 trips — and carried a small pistol for her own protection and to discourage anyone from turning back, the other historical claims contained in the meme are exaggerations, according to historians and experts.
Did the Irish help with the Underground Railroad?
From the few names I have found, it seems that the Irish immigrants who supported the Underground Railroad were mostly middle class, some were Presbyterian, others were Catholic, and a majority hailed from Ulster.
What did Frederick Douglass do?
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who became a prominent activist, author and public speaker. He became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of slavery, before and during the Civil War.
How did Harriet Tubman get involved in 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.
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.
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman save?
Fact: According to Tubman’s own words, and extensive documentation on her rescue missions, we know that she rescued about 70 people —family and friends—during approximately 13 trips to Maryland.
Is Gertie Davis died?
Despite working tirelessly to establish a new nation founded upon principles of freedom and egalitarianism, Jefferson owned over 600 enslaved people during his lifetime, the most of any U.S. president.
Did Harriet Tubman have epilepsy?
Her mission was getting as many men, women and children out of bondage into freedom. When Tubman was a teenager, she acquired a traumatic brain injury when a slave owner struck her in the head. This resulted in her developing epileptic seizures and hypersomnia.
Who befriended Frederick Douglass?
In 1841, Douglass attended an anti-slavery meeting in Nantucket and befriended two well-known abolitionists, John A. Collins and William Lloyd Garrison. Meeting these men proved to be yet another turning point in his life.
What did Frederick Douglass say about the Irish?
He saw the Irish were oppressed economically, socially, and religiously, but he echoed O’Connell’s assertion that the oppression of the Irish was not the same as slavery in America. Douglass said, “The Irish man is poor, but he is not a slave. He may be in rags, but he is not a slave.
Did Frederick Douglass visit Ireland?
American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglass spent four months in Ireland at the end of 1845 that proved to be, in his own words, ‘transformative’. He reported that for the first time in his life he felt like a man, and not a chattel.
8 Key Contributors to the Underground Railroad
Isaac Hopper, an abolitionist, is shown in this image from the Kean Collection/Getty Images. As early as 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with a “organization of Quakers, founded for such reasons,” which had sought to free a neighbor’s slave. Quakers were instrumental in the establishment of the Underground Railroad. Slavery was opposed in especially in Philadelphia, where Isaac Hopper, a Quaker who converted to Christianity, created what has been described as “the first working cell of the abolitionist underground.” Hopper not only protected escaped slave hunters in his own house, but he also constructed a network of safe havens and recruited a web of spies in order to get insight into their plans.
Hopper, a friend of Joseph Bonaparte, the exiled brother of the former French emperor, moved to New York City in 1829 and established himself as a successful businessman.
READ MORE: The Underground Railroad and Its Operation
2. John Brown
John Brown, an abolitionist, about 1846 GraphicaArtis/Getty Images courtesy of Similar to his father, John Brown actively participated in the Underground Railroad by hosting runaways at his home and warehouse and organizing an anti-slave catcher militia following the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which he inherited from his father. The next year, he joined several of his sons in the so-called “Bleeding Kansas” war, leading one attack that resulted in the deaths of five pro-slavery settlers in 1856.
Brown’s radicalization continued to grow, and his ultimate act occurred in October 1859, when he and 21 supporters seized the government arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), in an effort to incite a large-scale slave uprising.
3. Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she experienced repeated violent beatings, one of which involving a two-pound lead weight, which left her with seizures and migraines for the rest of her life. Tubman fled bondage in 1849, following the North Star on a 100-mile walk into Pennsylvania, fearing she would be sold and separated from her family. She died in the process. She went on to become the most well-known “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, participating in around 13 rescue missions back into Maryland and rescuing at least 70 enslaved individuals, including several of her siblings.
As a scout, spy, and healer for the Union Army, Tubman maintained her anti-slavery activities during the Civil War, and is believed to have been the first woman in the United States to lead troops into battle. Tubman died in 1865. When Harriet Tubman Led a Civil War Raid, You Should Pay Attention
4. Thomas Garrett
‘Thomas Garrett’ is a fictional character created by author Thomas Garrett. The New York Public Library is a public library in New York City. The Quaker “stationmaster” Thomas Garrett, who claimed to have assisted over 2,750 escaped slaves before the commencement of the Civil War, lived in Wilmington, Delaware, and Tubman frequently stopped there on her route up north. Garret not only gave his guests with a place to stay but also with money, clothing & food. He even personally led them to a more secure area on occasion, arm in arm.
Despite this, he persisted in his efforts.
He also stated that “if any of you know of any poor slave who needs assistance, please send him to me, as I now publicly pledge myself to double my diligence and never miss an opportunity to assist a slave to obtain freedom.”
5. William Still
Mister Garrett is a fictitious character created by author Thomas Garrett. The New York Public Library is a public library located in New York City. The Quaker “stationmaster” Thomas Garrett, who claimed to have assisted over 2,750 escaped slaves before the commencement of the Civil War, lived in Wilmington, Delaware, and Tubman frequently stopped there on her trip north. As well as a place to stay, Garrett offered his guests with money, clothing, and food, and he occasionally physically led them arm-in-arm to a more secure area.
However, he was unafraid to continue.
6. Levi Coffin
‘Thomas Garrett’ is a pseudonym for Thomas Garrett. The New York Public Library is a public library located in Manhattan. On her route north, Tubman frequently visited at the house of her acquaintance Thomas Garrett, a Quaker “stationmaster” who claimed to have assisted over 2,750 fleeing slaves before to the commencement of the Civil War in Wilmington, Delaware. Along with a place to stay, Garrett offered his guests with money, clothing, and food, and he occasionally physically led them arm-in-arm to a more secure area.
Despite this, he was unwavering in his resolve.
7. Elijah Anderson
The Ohio River, which formed the border between slave and free states, was referred to as the River Jordan in abolitionist circles because it represented the border between slave and free states. Madison, Indiana, was an especially appealing crossing point for enslaved persons on the run, because to an Underground Railroad cell established there by blacksmith Elijah Anderson and several other members of the town’s Black middle class in the 1850s. With his fair skin, Anderson might have passed for a white slave owner on his repeated travels into Kentucky, where would purportedly pick up 20 to 30 enslaved persons at a time and whisk them away to freedom, sometimes accompanying them as far as the Coffins’ mansion in Newport.
An anti-slavery mob devastated Madison in 1846, almost drowning an agent of the Underground Railroad, prompting Anderson to flee upriver to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where he eventually settled.
8. Thaddeus Stevens
Mr. Thaddeus Stevens is an American lawyer and senator. Bettmann Archive courtesy of Getty Images; Matthew Brady/Bettmann Archive Thaddeus Stevens, a representative from Pennsylvania, was outspoken in his opposition to slavery. The 14th and 15th amendments, which guaranteed African-American citizens equal protection under the law and the right to vote, respectively, were among his many accomplishments, and he also advocated for a radical reconstruction of the South, which included the redistribution of land from white plantation owners to former enslaved people.
Despite this, it wasn’t until 2002 that his Underground Railroad activities were brought to light, when archeologists uncovered a hidden hiding hole in the courtyard of his Lancaster house.
Seward, also served as Underground Railroad “stationmasters” during the era.
The Secret History of the Underground Railroad
Thodeus Stevens was an American lawyer and politician. Bettmann Archive courtesy of Getty Images. Photograph by Matthew Brady Thaddeus Stevens, a Pennsylvania lawmaker, was outspoken in his opposition to slavery. The 14th and 15th amendments, which guaranteed African-American citizens equal protection under the law and the right to vote, respectively, were among his many accomplishments, and he also advocated for a radical reconstruction of the South, which included the redistribution of land from white plantation owners to formerly enslaved individuals.
Despite this, it wasn’t until 2002 that his Underground Railroad activities were brought to light, when archeologists found a hidden hiding spot in the courtyard of his Lancaster house.
It has since been discovered that Stevens did, in fact, house runaways, and this has been proven. A number of other notable political individuals, such as novelist and orator Frederick Douglass and Secretary of State William H. Seward, also served as Underground Railroad “stationmasters.”
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?
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The Underground Railroad
At the time of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to flee to freedom in the northern states.
Subjects History of the United States, Social StudiesImage
Home of Levi Coffin
Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist. This was a station on the Underground Railroad, a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in escaping to the North during the Civil War. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography. “> During the age of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the North, according to the Underground Railroad Museum.
Although it was not a real railroad, it fulfilled the same function as one: it carried passengers across large distances.
The people who worked for the Underground Railroad were driven by a passion for justice and a desire to see slavery abolished—a drive that was so strong that they risked their lives and jeopardized their own freedom in order to assist enslaved people in escaping from bondage and staying safe while traveling the Underground Railroad.
- As the network expanded, the railroad metaphor became more prevalent.
- In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as part of a larger organization.
- According to historical tales of the railroad, conductors frequently pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways out of plantation prisons and train stations.
- Often, the conductors and passengers traveled 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance in this day and age.
- Patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were usually on their tails, chasing them down.
- Historians who study the railroad, on the other hand, find it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
- Eric Foner is one of the historians that belongs to this group.
- Despite this, the Underground Railroad was at the center of the abolitionist struggle during the nineteenth century.
- Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist.
- Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography.
- Person who is owned by another person or group of people is referred to as an enslaved person.
Slavery is a noun that refers to the act of owning another human being or being owned by another human being (also known as servitude). Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to flee to free states.
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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.|
The International Underground Railroad Month Closing Ceremony – Network to Freedom (U.S. National Park Service)
“Towards sunrise, they marched on, screaming out Liberty,” says the first-place winner of the Network to Freedom Photo Contest. Shawn Halifax is a Canadian singer-songwriter. The date of the news release is October 1, 2021. Amanda Pollock can be reached at [email protected] CHRISTCHURCH CROOK, MARYLAND– The “International Underground Railroad Month Closing Ceremony” was held as part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program’s “International Underground Railroad Month Closing Ceremony.” Network to Freedom Program revealed the winners of its Network to Freedom Awards, as well as the winner of the first Network to Freedom Photo Contest, at this event, which also included a showcase of the program’s newest listings approved in its 42nd Round of Applications.
International Underground Railroad Month is observed in various states throughout the month of September.
During this time of commemoration, the Network to Freedom’s role is to bring communities with sites, facilities, and programs that have documented connections to the Underground Railroad together and give them an opportunity to engage with these stories in a new way, as well as to provide specialized content that highlights the Underground Railroad’s international connections, among other things.
- Individuals who have done excellent efforts in behalf of the Underground Railroad Community are recognized with Network to Freedom Awards.
- He is a native of Natchez, Mississippi, and has devoted his life to preserving the Forks of the Road, which was formerly one of the greatest slave marketplaces in the United States.
- It was because of Boxley’s efforts that The Forks of the Road was recently included in the Natchez National Historical Park.
- They also represent the spirit of the Underground Railroad, uniting people from all walks of life, regardless of their social, racial, or gender identities, or their political affiliations, in order to make the world a better place.
- He works as the History and Culture Coordinator at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the founder and executive director of the Slave Dwelling Project, which he founded in 2005.
- Throughout his career, Joe has visited about 150 sites in more than 25 states and the District of Columbia, where he has conducted programs, given lectures, and slept the night in historic residences.
- Stanton Award for Network to Freedom Partners, which acknowledges those who have been loyal supporters of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program (1955-2021).
- With his assistance, the Clemens Farmstead (Ohio) and the Union Literary Institute (Indiana) were both recognized in the Network and received funds to assure that these historic places would be preserved for future generations.
He was also a member of Indiana Freedom Trails, a statewide volunteer organization dedicated to “locating, identifying, verifying, protecting, preserving, and promoting those Indiana sites and routes that are part of the National Underground Railroad Network.” He was also a member of the Indiana Historical Society.
- It is shown in the Network to Freedom Listing “Stono Slave Rebellion at the Elliot and Rose Plantations” by Shawn Halifax in his winning shot, “Towards dawn they marched on shouting out Liberty,” which was selected as the winner.
- The Network to Freedom program also recognized the newest Network to Freedom Listings during the International Underground Railroad Month Closing Ceremony, which took place during the International Underground Railroad Month.
- In order to celebrate, preserve, and promote the legacy of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom was established.
- The Network presently has over 695 sites in 39 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S.
Virgin Islands, according to its website. The Network to Freedom, via its mission, contributes to the advancement of the notion that all human beings have the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression, and that this is a universal human right.
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
Underground Railroad Sites in Indiana
The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes. Image courtesy of the National Park Service “The Underground Railroad” is depicted on the cover. Indiana has a long and illustrious history of involvement in the Underground Railroad. During the years leading up to and during the Civil War, a large number of runaway slaves journeyed across the state of Indiana. These fleeing men and women changed their routes and the places of their stops on a regular basis in order to reduce their chances of being apprehended and maybe recaptured by authorities.
Historians have been successful in locating various places that supported fleeing slaves in their journey to freedom, utilizing a broad variety of primary and secondary sources.
Indiana has hundreds of sites that have been identified.
Check back regularly to check if any new things have been added.
- Decatur County, Elkhart County, Floyd County, Fremont, Fort Wayne, Gibson County, Grant County, Hamilton County, Harrison County, Henry County, Jackson County, Knox County, Lake County, Lancaster, Madison, Madison County, Marion County, Michigan City, New Albany, Orland, Parke County, Ripley County, South Bend, Warrick County, and Wayne County are among the counties in Indiana.
The Little-Known History of the Underground Railroad in New York
Cyrus Gates House, located in Broome County, New York, was formerly a major station on the Underground Railroad’s route through the country. Commons image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons There was a time when New York City wasn’t the liberal Yankee bastion that it is now. When it came to abolitionists and abolitionist politics in the decades preceding up to the Civil War, the city was everything but an epicenter of abolitionism. Banking and shipping interests in the city were tightly related to the cotton and sugar businesses, both of which relied on slave labor to produce their products.
However, even at that time, the Underground Railroad, a network of hidden safe houses and escape routes used by fugitive slaves seeking freedom in the North, passed through the city and into the surrounding countryside.
In New York, however, the full extent of the Underground Railroad’s reach has remained largely unknown, owing to the city’s anti-abolitionist passion.
“This was a community that was strongly pro-Southern, and the Underground Railroad was working in much greater secrecy here than in many other parts of the North, so it was much more difficult to track down the Underground Railroad.”
Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad
runaway slaves and antislavery campaigners who disobeyed the law to aid them in their quest for freedom are the subjects of this gripping documentary. Eric Foner, more than any other researcher, has had a significant impact on our knowledge of American history. The Pulitzer Prize–winning historian has reconfigured the national tale of American slavery and liberation once more, this time with the help of astounding material that has come to light through his research. Foner’s latest book, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, describes how New York was a vital way station on the Underground Railroad’s journey from the Upper South to Pennsylvania and on to upstate New York, the New England states and Canada.
- Their narrative represents a phase in the history of resistance to slavery that has gotten only sporadic attention from historians up to this point.
- The existence of the Record of Fugitives, which was compiled by abolitionist newspaperman Sydney Howard Gay in New York City, was unknown to scholars until a student informed Foner of its existence.
- A runaway long forgotten, James Jones of Alexandria, according to Gay’s account, “had not been treated cruelly but was bored of being a slave,” according to the records.
- Foner reports that many fugitives ran away because they were being physically abused as much as they did out of a yearning for freedom, using terms such as “huge violence,” “badly treated,” “rough times,” and “hard master” to describe their experiences.
- During the late 1840s, he had risen to the position of the city’s foremost lawyer in runaway slave cases, frequently donating his services without charge, “at tremendous peril to his social and professional status,” according to Gay.
- Agent,” a title that would become synonymous with the Underground Railroad.
- He was an illiterate African-American.
- A number of letters and writs of habeas corpus bearing his name appear later on, as well as some of the most important court cases emerging from the disputed Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
- “He was the important person on the streets of New York, bringing in fugitives, combing the docks, looking for individuals at the train station,” Foner said.
that he had ever been the liberator of 3,000 individuals from bondage.” The author, who used theRecordas a jumping off point to delve deeper into New York’s fugitive slave network, also traces the origins of the New York Vigilance Committee, a small group of white abolitionists and free blacks who formed in 1835 and would go on to form the core of the city’s underground network until the eve of the Civil War.
The New York Vigilance Committee was a small group of white abolitionists and For the duration of its existence, Foner writes, “it drove runaway slaves to the forefront of abolitionist awareness in New York and earned sympathy from many people beyond the movement’s ranks.” It brought the intertwined concerns of kidnapping and fugitive slaves into the wider public consciousness.” The publication of Gateway to Freedom takes the total number of volumes authored by Foner on antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction America to two dozen.
His previous book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was published in 2012.
What was the inspiration for this book?
Everything started with one document, the Record of Fugitives, which was accidentally pointed up to me by a Columbia University student who was writing a senior thesis on Sydney Howard Gay and his journalistic career and happened to mention it to me.
She was in the manuscript library at Columbia when she mentioned it.
It was essentially unknown due to the fact that it had not been catalogued in any manner.
What was the atmosphere like in New York at the time?
As a result of their tight relationships with cotton plantation owners, this city’s merchants effectively controlled the cotton trade in the region.
The shipbuilding industry, insurance firms, and banks all had a role in the financialization of slavery.
They came to do business, but they also came to enjoy themselves.
The free black community and the very tiny band of abolitionists did exist, but it was a challenging setting in which to do their important job.
Routes were available in Ohio and Kentucky.
It was part of a larger network that provided assistance to a large number of fugitives.
It is incorrect to think of the Underground Railroad as a fixed collection of paths.
It wasn’t as if there were a succession of stations and people could just go from one to the next.
It was even more unorganized – or at least less organized – than before.
And after they moved farther north, to Albany and Syracuse, they were in the heart of anti-slavery area, and the terrain became much more amenable to their way of life.
People advertised in the newspaper about assisting escaped slaves, which was a radically different milieu from that of New York City at the time.
The phrase “Underground Railroad” should be interpreted relatively literally, at least toward the conclusion of the book.
Frederick Douglas had just recently boarded a train in Baltimore and traveled to New York.
Ship captains demanded money from slaves in exchange for hiding them and transporting them to the North.
The book also looks at the broader influence that escaped slaves had on national politics in the nineteenth century.
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was a particularly severe piece of legislation that drew a great deal of controversy in the northern states.
So that’s something else I wanted to emphasize: not only the story of these individuals, but also the way in which their acts had a significant impact on national politics and the outbreak of the Civil War. Activism History of African Americans Videos about American History that are recommended