Slaves taken to court for breaking the fugitive slave law could not testify on their own behalf, and were not allowed the right to a jury trial. In the North, Hicksite Quakers and other abolitionists provided some of the most organized support for 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.
Did Douglass Support Underground Railroad?
Douglass was born a slave in Tuckahoe, Maryland, and spent his adolescence as a houseboy in Baltimore. He used his oratorical skills in the ensuing years to lecture in the northern states against slavery. He also helped slaves escape to the North while working with the Underground Railroad.
Who helped Harriet Tubman with the Underground Railroad?
Fugitive Slave Act She often drugged babies and young children to prevent slave catchers from hearing their cries. Over the next ten years, Harriet befriended other abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Thomas Garrett and Martha Coffin Wright, and established her own Underground Railroad network.
Did the north support the Underground Railroad?
Underground Railroad, in the United States, a system existing in the Northern states before the Civil War by which escaped slaves from the South were secretly helped by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach places of safety in the North or in Canada.
Who is the leader of the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), a renowned leader in the Underground Railroad movement, established the Home for the Aged in 1908. Born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman gained her freedom in 1849 when she escaped to Philadelphia.
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.
What was Frederick Douglass’s role in the Underground Railroad?
The famous abolitionist, writer, lecturer, statesman, and Underground Railroad conductor Frederick Douglass (1817–1895) resided in this house from 1877 until his death. He was a leader of Rochester’s Underground Railroad movement and became the editor and publisher of the North Star, an abolitionist newspaper.
How successful was the Underground Railroad?
Ironically the Fugitive Slave Act increased Northern opposition to slavery and helped hasten the Civil War. The Underground Railroad gave freedom to thousands of enslaved women and men and hope to tens of thousands more. In both cases the success of the Underground Railroad hastened the destruction of slavery.
What states did the Underground Railroad go through?
These were called “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots.” The people operating them were called “stationmasters.” 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.
Who was the father of the Underground Railroad?
William Still (1821-1902), known as “the Father of the Underground Railroad,” assisted nearly 1,000 freedom seekers as they fled enslavement along the eastern branch of the Underground Railroad. Inspired by his own family’s story, he kept detailed, written records about the people who passed through the PASS offices.
How did the Quakers help the Underground Railroad?
The Quaker campaign to end slavery can be traced back to the late 1600s, and many played a pivotal role in the Underground Railroad. In 1776, Quakers were prohibited from owning slaves, and 14 years later they petitioned the U.S. Congress for the abolition of slavery.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
Did the Underground Railroad really exist?
( Actual underground railroads did not exist until 1863.) According to John Rankin, “It was so called because they who took passage on it disappeared from public view as really as if they had gone into the ground. After the fugitive slaves entered a depot on that road no trace of them could be found.
8 Key Contributors to the Underground Railroad
Abolitionist Isaac HopperKean Collection/Getty ImagesQuakers played a significant role in the formation of the Underground Railroad, with George Washington expressing displeasure as early as 1786 that a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes, have attempted to liberate” a neighbor’s slave through the use of a secret passageway. In Philadelphia, anti-slavery sentiment was particularly strong, and Isaac Hopper, a Quaker who converted to Christianity, established what has been described as “the first operating cell of the abolitionist underground.” In addition to hiding runaways in his own home, Hopper organized a network of safe havens and cultivated a web of informants in order to learn the plans of fugitive slave hunters.
Though he was a tailor by trade, he was also skilled at exploiting legal loopholes to secure the liberation of enslaved individuals in court.
After arriving in Philadelphia, he continued to assist fugitive slaves, even facing off an anti-abolitionist crowd that had assembled outside his Quaker bookstore.READ MORE:How the Underground Railroad Worked
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
William Still is a well-known author and poet. Photograph courtesy of the Hulton Archive/Getty Images Many runaways traveled from Wilmington, the final Underground Railroad station in the slave state of Delaware, to the office of William Still in adjacent Philadelphia, which was the last stop on their journey. The Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, which provided food and clothing, coordinated escapes, raised funds, and otherwise served as a one-stop social services shop for hundreds of fugitive slaves each year, was chaired by Still, who was a free-born African American.
Still ultimately produced a book in which he chronicled the personal histories of his guests, which offered valuable insight into the operation of the Underground Railroad as a whole.
His assistance to Osborne Anderson, the only African-American member of John Brown’s company to survive the Harpers Ferry raid, was another occasion when he was called upon.
6. Levi Coffin
Charles T. Webber’s painting The Underground Railroad depicts fleeing slaves Levi Coffin, his wife Catherine, and Hannah Haydock providing assistance to the group of fugitive slaves. Getty Images/Bettina Archive/Getty Images Levi Coffin, often known as the “president of the Underground Railroad,” is said to have been an abolitionist when he was seven years old after witnessing a column of chained slaves people being taken to an auction house. Following a humble beginning delivering food to fugitives holed up on his family’s North Carolina plantation, he rose through the ranks to become a successful trader and prolific “stationmaster,” first in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana, and subsequently in Cincinnati, Kentucky.
In addition to hosting anti-slavery lectures and abolitionist sewing club meetings, Coffin, like his fellow Quaker Thomas Garrett, stood steadfast when hauled before a court of law.
His writings state that “the dictates of humanity came in direct conflict with the law of the land,” and that “we rejected the law.”
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
River Jordan was the name given to the Ohio River by abolitionists because it marked the border between slave and free states and represented the border between slave and free states. The Underground Railroad cell established at Madison, Indiana, by blacksmith Elijah Anderson and several other members of the town’s Black middle class, served as a particularly appealing crossing point for enslaved persons on the run during the Civil War. With his fair skin, Anderson might have passed for a white slave owner on his repeated travels into Kentucky, where he reportedly picked up 20 to 30 enslaved persons at a time and whisked them away to freedom, sometimes accompanying them as far as the Coffins’ mansion in Newport, Kentucky.
Anderson escaped upriver to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, after being attacked by a mob of pro-slavery whites in Madison in 1846, almost drowning an Underground Railroad agent.
Anderson was found dead in his cell in 1861, on what some sources claim was the exact day of his parole, according to other accounts.
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.|
Underground Railroad, The (1820-1861)
Smuggled fugitives through the Underground Railroad during the winter seasonThe Underground Railroad was constructed to help enslaved persons in their escape to freedom. The railroad network was made up of dozens of hidden routes and safe houses that began in slaveholding states and extended all the way to the Canadian border, which was the only place where fugitives could be certain of their freedom. From Florida to Cuba, or from Texas to Mexico, there were shorter routes that took you south.
The Underground Railroad’s success was dependent on the collaboration of previous runaway slaves, free-born blacks, Native Americans, and white and black abolitionists who assisted in guiding runaway slaves along the routes and providing their houses as safe havens for the fugitive slave population.
- The Underground Railroad in the Nineteenth Century New York Public Library’s Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, part of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, provided this photograph.
- The railroad employed conductors, among them William Still of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was likely the most well-known of the group.
- Slave-hiding spots were called stations, and stationmasters were individuals who hid slaves in their houses.
- The Underground Railroad functioned as a number of interconnected networks.
- Those responsible for leading the fugitive slaves north did so in stages.
- The “freight” would be transferred on to the next conductor once it reached another stop, and so on until the full journey had been completed.
- When the Underground Railroad was successful, it engendered a great deal of hostility among slaveholders and their friends.
The law was misused to a tremendous extent.
Due to the fact that African Americans were not permitted to testify or have a jury present during a trial, they were frequently unable to defend themselves.
Ironically, the Fugitive Slave Act fueled Northern opposition to slavery and contributed to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
A large number of those who escaped became human witnesses to the slave system, with many of them traveling on the lecture circuit to explain to Northerners what life was like as a slave in the slave system.
It was the success of the Underground Railroad in both situations that contributed to the abolition of slavery.
Blaine Hudson, Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2006); David W.
Instructions for Citing This Article (in APA Format): Waggoner, C., and Waggoner, C. (n.d.). The Underground Railroad was in operation from 1820 until 1861). Project on the History of Social Welfare. It was retrieved from
William Still’s National Significance · William Still: An African-American Abolitionist
Who is William Still, and what is his background? During the antebellum period in American history, William Still, a free-born Black man, rose to prominence as a leader of the abolitionist movement and as a writer. He was also one of the most successful Black businessmen in the history of the city of Philadelphia, and he was born in the city of Philadelphia. He was the youngest of eighteen children born to Levin and Charity Still on October 7, 1821, in Burlington County, New Jersey, and was the youngest of their eighteen children.
- His father purchased his freedom, and his mother was able to flee slavery in Maryland with the help of a relative.
- The virtues of family and effort that his parents instilled in him, together with pride and self-determination, have served him well throughout his life.
- After completing his apprenticeship that year, he was employed to work as a clerk at The Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery.
- The enactment of the Escaped Slave Act of 1850 resulted in Still’s appointment as head of the society’s resurrected Vigilance Committee, which assisted and supported fugitive Africans.
- He had no formal education at the time, but he read all he could get his hands on and studied grammar.
- He was given the authority to chronicle African resistance to slavery, as well as to write letters to his family and friends and handle commercial affairs.
- Still submitted a letter to the newspaper in 1859, expressing his displeasure with the racial prejudice that African Americans were subjected to aboard Philadelphia streetcars.
In his self-published book The Underground Railroad (1872), William Still chronicled the tales of Africans who had been slaves but had earned their freedom via the use of the Underground Railroad.
He engaged literary agents to help him market the book.
He died in 1876.
In 1874, he authored An Address on Voting and Laboring, in which he defended his support for the reform candidate for mayor of Philadelphia, as opposed to the Republican candidate for mayor of the city.
After a forty-year quest, he was able to track down his brother, Peter Still, and assist him in his escape to freedom.
Still, he shown great courage in aiding escaped Africans, even at the danger of his own life.
He was an outspoken supporter of universal suffrage.
As a result of his fame, he was assigned to the Philadelphia Board of Trade in 1861 and, in 1864, to the position of peddler for the food of black troops at Camp William Penn in Pennsylvania.
He also served as a member of the Freedmen’s Aid Commission and was instrumental in the establishment of one of the first YMCAs for black youth.
Justification for the importance of William Still’s collection on a national scale The William Still Papers, which span the years 1865 to 1899, are housed at the Charles L.
It is estimated that Still’s documents contain 140 letters referring to family concerns, as well as 14 images.
As a vital contributor to the success of the Underground Railroad activities in Philadelphia, William Still was an integral member of the city’s free Black population, which played an important role in the Underground Railroad.
Runaways were able to get to safety in the North because to his efforts with the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery’s Vigilance Committee.
His work The Underground Railroad is well-known around the world.
Since the passage of H.R.
Blockson Afro-American Collection to investigate William Still’s papers, which are housed in the Charles L.
This act permitted the establishment of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program by the United States National Park Service, which was tasked with the identification of Underground Railroad locations and the popularization of the Underground Railroad movement.
The personal communication of William Still and his family members offers scholars with an insight into the personal lives of William Still and his relatives. For further information about William Still, please visit the following:
- Who is William Still, and what is his history? During the antebellum period of American history, William Still, a free-born Black man, rose to prominence as a leader of the abolitionist movement and as a writer. Aside from that, he was one of the most successful African-American merchants in the city’s history. The youngest of eighteen children, Levin Still, was born on October 7, 1821, in Burlington County, New Jersey, to Levin and Charity Still. Slavery was a way of life for both of his parents from birth. Slavery was abolished in Maryland, and his father purchased his freedom through a bribe. With strong memories from his childhood of the atrocities of slavery, William Still grew up in the South. The virtues of family and effort that his parents instilled in him, together with pride and self-determination, have served him well throughout his life. As early as 1844, he relocated to Philadelphia, where he met and married Letitia George, who would become the mother of his four children. After completing his apprenticeship that year, he was hired to work as a clerk by The Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery. He became an active agent on the Underground Railroad, supporting runaway Africans who came to Philadelphia in their pursuit of freedom and independence. With the passing of the Escaped Slave Act of 1850, Still was chosen head of the society’s revitalized Vigilance Committee, which helped and supported fugitive African slaves across the United States. The Most Important Achievements of William Still The fact that William Still was able to teach himself how to read and write at an era in American history when laws were passed preventing Blacks, particularly enslaved African Americans, from learning to read and write is one of his most notable achievements. His official education was still in its early stages, but he read everything he could get his hands on and diligently studied grammar. This process of learning evolved into a kind of African resistance to slavery over the course of several centuries. Abolitionists in Africa were documenting their battle against slavery, and he was given the authority to write letters to his family and friends and transact business. He rose to prominence as a civil rights activist in the North, persistently striving to improve racial relations. African Americans were discriminated against on Philadelphia streetcars in 1859, and Still took to the newspaper to express his dissatisfaction. The publication of A Brief Narrative of the Struggle for the Rights of Colored People of Philadelphia in the City Railway Cars in 1867 was a watershed moment in the history of race relations in the United States. In his self-published book The Underground Railroad (1872), William Still chronicled the tales of Africans who had been slaves but had earned their freedom via the use of the Underground Railroad to flee slavery. In Still’s The Underground Railroad, an African American author provides the first first-person account of Black actions on the Underground Railroad that has been authored and self-published by an African-American. His novel was sold via the assistance of literary agencies. He published three versions of his book, which was displayed during the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in the year 1876. But I’d still like to write some more! In 1874, he authored An Address on Voting and Laboring, in which he explained why he supported the reform candidate for mayor of Philadelphia rather than the Republican candidate. As a leader of the abolitionist movement, William Still was instrumental in the emancipation of hundreds of enslaved Africans. His brother, Peter Still, was apprehended and assisted in his escape to freedom after a forty-year hunt. After locating his brother, he fled to the United States and began keeping comprehensive documents of African resistance to slavery. Still, he shown great courage in aiding escaped Africans, even at the risk of his own safety. Among his accomplishments was his role in organizing and funding the Pennsylvania Civil, Social, and Statistical Association, which gathered information on emancipated men and women. A proponent of universal suffrage, his work was well-documented. As a successful businessman, he invested in real estate, founded a new and used stove and coal company, and finally established a coal yard in 1861, among other endeavors. His notoriety led to his appointment to the Philadelphia Board of Trade, and he was then assigned to the position of peddler for the food of black troops at Camp William Penn in 1864. A proponent of temperance, he was also the driving force behind the establishment of a mission Sabbath School for the Presbyterian Church. Also a member of the Freedmen’s Aid Commission, he helped to establish one of the earliest YMCAs for black youth and participated in the administration of homes for the elderly and poor black children as well as an orphanage for the children of black soldiers and sailors during the American Civil War. Justification for the importance of William Still’s collection on a national level The William Still Papers, which date from 1865 to 1899, are housed at the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. 140 letters dealing to Still’s family concerns are included in the collection, along with 14 images. Several members of the Still family, who live in the area, made a generous donation to the Blockson Collection. A vital contributor to the success of Underground Railroad activities in Philadelphia, William Still was a member of Philadelphia’s free Black community, which played an important role in the Underground Railroad’s operations. A large number of Africans who had escaped enslavement and were on their way to Canada were accommodated by him personally in Philadelphia. Through his work with the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery’s Vigilance Committee, he was able to obtain cash to aid runaways and organize their transportation to freedom in the northern states. Many of Harriet Tubman’s journeys to the South to liberate enslaved Africans were made possible because of his contributions to the cause of freedom. World-renowned author Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s work The Underground Railroad is widely read across the world. His detailed records are crucial not just for demonstrating that Blacks possess intellectual aptitude, but also for demonstrating that they were active participants in their own liberation efforts. Since the passage of H.R. 1635 by Congress in 1997, researchers from all over the world have asked about and visited the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection to investigate William Still’s papers, which are now part of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. This act permitted the establishment of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program by the United States National Park Service, which was tasked with the identification of Underground Railroad locations and the popularization of the Underground Railroad in the United States. Furthermore, the program recognized William Still, a notable Underground Railroad agent who worked in a significant hub of the abolitionist movement, as having national significance. Researchers might get insight into the personal lives of William Still and his family members by studying William Still’s personal letters. See the following links for further information about William Still:
Operating Underground Railroad
|The debate in Congress in 1819 and 1820 over whether Missouri should enter the Union as a slave or free state made it clear to the entire nation that the slavery issue was not going to simply evaporate in the American republic.For free blacks, the formation of the national American Colonization Societypersuaded them to organize for the abolition of slavery rather than act individually.The Colonization Society wanted federal government funds to pay the costs of settling free blacks in an African colony they founded and called Liberia.The threat to free African Americans that this appeared to represent called for a more organized black response and for more white allies.The era of immediate abolitionism is generally acknowledged to have begun on January 1, 1831, when William Lloyd Garrison first published his abolitionist newspaper,The Liberator.The abolitionists were divided over strategy and tactics, but they were very active and very visible.Many of them were part of the organized Underground Railroad that flourished between 1830 and 1861.Not all abolitionists favored aiding fugitive slaves, and some believed that money and energy should go to political action. Even those who were not abolitionists might be willing to help when they encountered a fugitive, or they might not.It was very difficult for fugitives to know who could be trusted.Southerners were outraged that escaping slaves received assistance from so many sources and that they lived and worked in the North and Canada.As a part of the Compromise of 1850, a new Fugitive Slave Act was passed that made it both possible and profitable to hire slave catchers to find and arrest runaways. This was a disaster for the free black communities of the North, especially since the slave catchers often kidnapped legally-free blacks as well as fugitives.But these seizures and kidnappings brought the brutality of slavery into the North and persuaded many more people to assist fugitives.Vigilance Committees acted as contact points for runaways and watched out vigilantly for the rights of northern free blacks.They worked together with local abolition societies, African American churches and a variety of individuals to help fugitives move further on or to find them homes and work.Those who went to Canada in the mid-nineteenth century went primarily to what was then called Canada West, now Ontario.List of Sites|HomeComments or Questions Last Modified:EST|
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
However, many of the intriguing and lesser known elements of the Underground Railroad are not included in many textbooks, despite the fact that it is an essential part of our nation’s history. It is intended that this booklet will serve as a window into the past by presenting a number of original documents pertaining to the Underground Railroad. Broadsides, prize posters, newspaper clippings, historical records, sheet music, pictures, and memoirs connected to the Underground Railroad are among the primary sources included in this collection.
- The Underground Railroad was a covert structure established to assist fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in the United States.
- As a result, secret codes were developed to aid in the protection of themselves and their purpose.
- Runaway slaves were referred to as cargo, and the free persons who assisted them on their journey to freedom were referred to as conductors.
- These stations would be identified by a lantern that was lighted and hung outside.
A Dangerous Path to Freedom
Traveling through the Underground Railroad to seek their freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, in a short amount of time in order to escape. They accomplished this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were rushing after them in the night. Slave owners were not the only ones who sought for and apprehended fleeing slaves. For the purpose of encouraging people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters offering monetary compensation for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
- They would have to fend off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them while trekking for lengthy periods of time in the wilderness, as well as cross dangerous terrain and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the arrest of fugitive slaves since they were regarded as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the law at the time.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the southern states, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’ American Memory and America’s Library collections.
He did not escape via the Underground Railroad, but rather on a regular railroad.
Since he was a fugitive slave who did not have any “free papers,” he had to borrow a seaman’s protection certificate, which indicated that a seaman was a citizen of the United States, in order to prove that he was free.
Unfortunately, not all fugitive slaves were successful in their quest for freedom.
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson, and John Parker were just a few of the people who managed to escape slavery using the Underground Railroad system.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet in diameter. When he was finally let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
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.
The Secret History of the Underground Railroad
Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race was the title of a series published by De Bow’s Review, a leading Southern periodical, a decade before the Civil War. The series was deemed necessary by the editors because it had “direct and practical bearing” on 3 million people whose worth as property totaled approximately $2 billion. When it comes to African Americans’ supposed laziness (“deficiency of red blood in the pulmonary and arterial systems”), love of dancing (“profuse distribution of nervous matter to the stomach, liver, and genital organs”), and extreme aversion to being whipped (“skin.
- However, it was Cartwright’s discovery of a previously undiscovered medical illness, which he coined “Drapetomania, or the sickness that causes Negroes to flee,” that grabbed the most attention from readers.
- Despite the fact that only a few thousand individuals, at most, fled slavery each year—nearly all of them from states bordering the free North—their migration was seen by many Southern whites as a portent of a greater calamity.
- How long do you think it will take until the entire cloth begins to unravel?
- Rather, it was intentionally supported and helped by a well-organized network that was both large and diabolical in scope.
- The word “Underground Railroad” brings up pictures of trapdoors, flickering lamps, and moonlit routes through the woods in the minds of most people today, just as it did in the minds of most Americans in the 1840s and 1850s.
- At least until recently, scholars paid relatively little attention to the story, which is remarkable considering how prominent it is in the national consciousness.
- The Underground Railroad was widely believed to be a statewide conspiracy with “conductors,” “agents,” and “depots,” but was it really a fiction of popular imagination conjured up from a succession of isolated, unconnected escapes?
- Which historians you trust in will determine the solutions.
One historian (white) questioned surviving abolitionists (most of whom were also white) a decade after the Civil War and documented a “great and complicated network” of agents, 3,211 of whom he identified by name, as well as a “great and intricate network” of agents (nearly all of them white).
- “I escaped without the assistance.
- “I have freed myself in the manner of a man.” In many cases, the Underground Railroad was not concealed at all.
- The journal of a white New Yorker who assisted hundreds of runaway slaves in the 1850s was found by an undergraduate student in Foner’s department at Columbia University while working on her final thesis some years ago, and this discovery served as the inspiration for his current book.
- One of the book’s most surprising revelations is that, according to the book’s subtitle, the Underground Railroad was not always secret at all.
- The New York State Vigilance Committee, established in 1850, the year of the infamous Fugitive Slave Act, officially declared its objective to “welcome, with open arms, the panting fugitive.” Local newspapers published stories about Jermain W.
Bazaars with the slogan “Buy for the sake of the slave” provided donated luxury items and handcrafted knickknacks just before the winter holidays, and bake sales in support of the Underground Railroad, no matter how unlikely it may seem, became popular fund-raisers in Northern towns and cities.
- Political leaders, especially those who had taken vows to protect the Constitution — including the section ordering the return of runaways to their proper masters — blatantly failed to carry out their obligations.
- Judge William Jay, a son of the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, made the decision to disregard fugitive slave laws and contributed money to aid runaway slaves who managed to flee.
- One overlooked historical irony is that, up until the eve of Southern secession in 1860, states’ rights were cited as frequently by Northern abolitionists as they were by Southern slaveholders, a fact that is worth noting.
- It was not recognized for its abolitionist passion, in contrast to places like as Boston and Philadelphia, which had deep-rooted reformer traditions—as well as communities in upstate New York such as Buffalo and Syracuse.
Even before the city’s final bondsmen were released, in 1827, its economy had become deeply intertwined with that of the South, as evidenced by a gloating editorial in the De Bow newspaper, published shortly before the Civil War, claiming the city was “nearly as reliant on Southern slavery as Charleston.” New York banks lent money to plantation owners to acquire slaves, while New York merchants made their fortunes off the sale of slave-grown cotton and sugar.
- Besides properly recapturing escapees, slave catchers prowled the streets of Manhattan, and they frequently illegally kidnapped free blacks—particularly children—in order to sell them into Southern bondage.
- The story begins in 1846, when a man called George Kirk slipped away aboard a ship sailing from Savannah to New York, only to be discovered by the captain and shackled while awaiting return to his owner.
- The successful fugitive was escorted out of court by a phalanx of local African Americans who were on the lookout for him.
- In this case, the same court found other legal grounds on which to free Kirk, who rolled out triumphantly in a carriage and made his way to the safety of Boston in short order this time.
- In addition to being descended from prominent Puritans, Sydney Howard Gay married a wealthy (and radical) Quaker heiress.
- Co-conspirator Louis Napoleon, who is thought to be the freeborn son of a Jewish New Yorker and an African American slave, was employed as an office porter in Gay’s office.
- Gay was the one who, between 1855 and 1856, maintained the “Record of Fugitives,” which the undergraduate discovered in the Columbia University archives and which chronicled more than 200 escapes.
One first-person narrative starts, “I ate one meal a day for eight years.” “It has been sold three times, and it is expected to be sold a fourth time.
Undoubtedly, a countrywide network existed, with its actions sometimes shrouded in secrecy.
Its routes and timetables were continually changing as well.
As with Gay and Napoleon’s collaboration, its operations frequently brought together people from all walks of life, including the affluent and the poor, black and white.
Among others who decamped to Savannah were a light-skinned guy who set himself up in a first-class hotel, went around town in a magnificent new suit of clothes, and insouciantly purchased a steamship ticket to New York from Savannah.
At the height of the Civil War, the number of such fugitives was still a small proportion of the overall population.
It not only played a role in precipitating the political crisis of the 1850s, but it also galvanized millions of sympathetic white Northerners to join a noble fight against Southern slaveholders, whether they had personally assisted fugitive slaves, shopped at abolitionist bake sales, or simply enjoyed reading about slave escapes in books and newspapers.
More than anything else, it trained millions of enslaved Americans to gain their freedom at a moment’s notice if necessary.
Within a few months, a large number of Union soldiers and sailors successfully transformed themselves into Underground Railroad operatives in the heart of the South, sheltering fugitives who rushed in large numbers to the Yankees’ encampments to escape capture.
Cartwright’s most horrific nightmares.
On one of the Union’s railway lines, an abolitionist discovered that the volume of wartime traffic was at an all-time high—except on one of them.
The number of solo travelers is quite limited.” And it’s possible that New Yorkers were surprised to open their eyes in early 1864.
The accompanying essay, on the other hand, soon put their worries at ease. It proposed a plan to construct Manhattan’s first subway line, which would travel northward up Broadway from the Battery to Central Park. It was never built.