Underground Railroad conductors were free individuals who helped fugitive slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad. Conductors helped runaway slaves by providing them with safe passage to and from stations. They did this under the cover of darkness with slave catchers hot on their heels.
Who were other conductors of the Underground Railroad?
8 Key Contributors to the Underground Railroad
- Isaac Hopper. Abolitionist Isaac Hopper.
- John Brown. Abolitionist John Brown, c.
- Harriet Tubman.
- Thomas Garrett.
- William Still.
- Levi Coffin.
- Elijah Anderson.
- Thaddeus Stevens.
Who were the stationmasters on the Underground Railroad?
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
Who was the most famous operator or conductor on the Underground Railroad?
Our Headlines and Heroes blog takes a look at Harriet Tubman as the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. Tubman and those she helped escape from slavery headed north to freedom, sometimes across the border to Canada.
Who was the most important person in the Underground Railroad?
HARRIET TUBMAN – The Best-Known Figure in UGR History Harriet Tubman is perhaps the best-known figure related to the underground railroad. She made by some accounts 19 or more rescue trips to the south and helped more than 300 people escape slavery.
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 did Levi Coffin do?
Levi Coffin, (born October 28, 1798, New Garden [now in Greensboro], North Carolina, U.S.—died September 16, 1877, Cincinnati, Ohio), American abolitionist, called the “President of the Underground Railroad,” who assisted thousands of runaway slaves on their flight to freedom.
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.
Was Harriet Tubman an abolitionist?
Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. She led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom in the North along the route of the Underground Railroad.
How old would Harriet Tubman be today?
Harriet Tubman’s exact age would be 201 years 10 months 28 days old if alive. Total 73,747 days. Harriet Tubman was a social life and political activist known for her difficult life and plenty of work directed on promoting the ideas of slavery abolishment.
How many slaves did Levi Coffin help escape?
In 1826, he moved to Indiana and over the next 20 years he assisted more than 2,000 enslaved persons escape bondage, so many that his home was known as the “Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.”
Is the Prime series Underground Railroad a true story?
Adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-award-winning novel, The Underground Railroad is based on harrowing true events. Directed by Barry Jenkins, the new Amazon Prime series is a loyal adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel of the same name.
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, went to New York City in 1829 and established himself as a successful businessman.
READ MORE: The Underground Railroad and Its Operation
2. John Brown
Isaac Hopper, an abolitionist, is shown in this image from the Kean Collection/Getty Images collection. 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 dubbed “the first working cell of the abolitionist underground,” according to one source.
A tailor by profession, whose speciality was exploiting legal loopholes to secure the liberation of enslaved individuals in the courts of justice.
His work with runaway slaves continued there, and at one time he had to defend his Quaker bookstore from an anti-abolitionist crowd that had assembled outside.
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
William Still is an American author and poet. Photograph courtesy of the Hulton Archive and Getty Images. Many runaways made their way to the office of William Still in neighboring Philadelphia after leaving Wilmington, the last Underground Railroad destination in the slave state of Delaware. The Pennsylvania Abolition Society’s Vigilance Committee, which distributed food and clothes, planned escapes, generated cash, and otherwise operated as a one-stop social services shop for hundreds of fleeing slaves each year, was led by Still, who was a free-born African American.
It was his long-lost brother, who had spent decades in bondage in the Deep South, who was among others who showed up at his office and introduced themselves.
His assistance to Osborne Anderson, the only African-American member of John Brown’s troop to escape the Harpers Ferry raid, was another occasion when he was commended. When the Civil War broke out, Still was a successful businessman who also happened to be an abolitionist.
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 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.”
The Underground Railroad Effect on Slaves – Free Essay Example
Thaddeus Stevens was an American lawyer and congressman. Getty Images/Matthew Brady/Bettmann Archive Thaddeus Stevens, a representative from Pennsylvania, made no secret of 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, including the redistribution of land from white plantation owners to former enslaved people.
It wasn’t until archeologists uncovered a hidden hiding place in the courtyard of his Lancaster home in 2002 that his Underground Railroad activities were brought to light.
Other famous political leaders, including as poet and orator Frederick Douglass and Secretary of State William H.
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.
Our history: Jefferson’s ex-slave was Underground Railroad conductor
A decade before the Civil War, the leading Southern periodical De Bow’s Reviewpublished a series titled Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race—a much-needed study, the editors opined, because it had “direct and practical bearing” on 3 million people whose worth as property totaled approximately $2 billion at the time of the publication. 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.
- (“Fleeing slave,” he said, was an old Greek phrase for a fugitive slave).
- “Treating one’s slaves lovingly but sternly,” he said, was the first option.
- 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 exodus was seen by many Southern whites as a portent of a greater disaster.
- Was it a matter of time until the entire fabric came undone?
- Rather, it was intentionally supported and helped by a well-organized network that was both huge and ominous in scale.
- The term underground railroad brings to mind pictures of trapdoors, flickering torches, and dark passageways winding through the woods, much as it did for most of the population in the 1840s and 1850s.
- At least until recently, researchers paid relatively little attention to the story, which is remarkable considering how prominent it is in the public 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 concocted from a succession of isolated and unconnected escapes?
- Depending on whose historians you trust, the answers will be different.
One historian (white) questioned surviving abolitionists (most of whom were also white) a decade after the Civil War and documented a “big and complicated network” of agents, 3,211 of whom he recognized by name, who he characterized as “a large and intricate network” (nearly all of them white).
- Activist clergyman James W.
- Pennington claimed in 1855 that he had escaped “without the help.
- As a result of his work on Abraham Lincoln and slavery, Eric Foner, one of the nation’s most recognized practitioners of history (his earlier book on the subject was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), has joined an expanding number of researchers who are illuminating the night sky.
- (Since the student, as he makes clear in his acknowledgments, chose to become a lawyer, no scholarly careers were jeopardized in the course of the publication of this book.) Readers will be surprised by the narrative told in Gateway to Freedom: The Secret History of the Underground Railroad.
- Assisting runaways was nothing new for abolitionist organisations, who made a point of publicizing it in pamphlets, publications, and yearly reports.
- Local newspapers published stories about Jermain W.
Bazaars with the slogan “Buy for the sake of the slave” offered donated luxury goods and handcrafted knickknacks just before the winter holidays, and bake sales in support of the Underground Railroad became common fund-raisers in Northern towns and cities, despite the fact that this may seem unlikely.
- Many women were enthralled by these incidents, which transformed everyday, “feminine” tasks like baking, grocery shopping, and sewing into exhilarating acts of moral commitment and political rebellion for thousands of them.
- While governor of New York, William Seward publicly sponsored Underground Railroad operations, and while serving as a senator in the United States Senate, he (not so openly) provided refuge to runaways in his basement.
- When Northern states implemented “personal liberty” acts in the 1850s, they were able to exclude state and municipal authorities from federal fugitive-slave statutes, this act of defiance acquired legal recognition.
- Yet another surprise in Foner’s gripping story is that it takes place in New York City.
- Even as recently as the 1790s, enslaved laborers tended Brooklyn’s outlying fields, constituting a quarter of the city’s total population (40 percent).
- 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 bond slavery.
- George Kirk snuck away on board a ship bound for New York in 1846, only to be apprehended by the captain and kept in chains while waiting to be returned to his master’s possession.
- Following his triumphant exit from court, the winning fugitive was met with applause from the courtroom’s African-American contingent.
- A second legal basis was discovered by the same court to free Kirk, who this time rolled out triumphantly in a carriage and arrived in the safety of Boston in no time.
- In addition to being descended from prominent Puritans, Sydney Howard Gay married a wealthy (and radical) Quaker heiress, who became the editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard.
- Whilst Gay was busy publishing abolitionist manifestos and raising funds, Napoleon was patrolling the New York harbor in search of black stowaways and traveling the length and breadth of the Mason-Dixon Line in pursuit of those who had managed to escape slavery.
It’s “the most complete description in existence of how the underground railroad worked in New York City,” according to Foner, and it contains “a treasure trove of compelling anecdotes and a storehouse of insights about both slavery and the underground railroad.” One of the most moving passages was when Gay documented the slaves’ accounts of their reasons for fleeing in a matter-of-fact tone.
- Cartwright’s theory, it appears that none of them addressed Drapetomania.
- I was beaten with a hatchet and bled for three days after being struck with 400 lashes by an overseer.” As a result of his research, Foner concludes that the phrase “Underground Railroad” has been used to describe something that is restrictive, if not deceptive.
- Though it had tunnels, it also had straightaways and bright straightaways where its traces might be found.
- It is true that the Underground Railroad had conductors and stationmasters in a sense, but the great majority of its people contributed in ways that were far too diverse to be compared in such a straightforward manner.
- Its passengers and their experiences were almost as different.
- During this time, a Virginia mother and her little daughter had spent five months crouched in a small hiding hole beneath a house near Norfolk before being transported out of the country.
- Although the Underground Railroad operated on a small scale, its effect considerably beyond the size of its activities.
It fostered the suspicions of Southern leaders while driving Northern leaders to choose sides with either the slaves or the slavecatchers.
Escapees were reported to be flooding northward at an unusual rate just a few days after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861.
There had been a Drapetomania on a magnitude that was worse beyond Dr.
The Reverend Samuel Cartwright passed away in 1863, just a few months after the Emancipation Proclamation, which officially established Drapetomania as a national policy.
As he put it, the Underground Railroad “has hardly no business at all these days.
New Yorkers may have been astonished to open their eyes in the early 1864 season as well.
The accompanying piece, on the other hand, soon put their concerns to rest. According to the plan, Manhattan’s first subway line would travel northward up Broadway from the Battery to Central Park, beginning at 42nd Street.
Tips for Researching the Underground Railroad – National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Primary materials are the most effective approach to gain an understanding of the Underground Railroad and the experiences of freedom seekers and conductors who used it. Sydney Howard Gay, a New York conductor, kept confidential notes on more than 200 political prisoners. William Still, a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, wrote the first book on the subject, which was released in 1872 and recounted his experiences assisting freedom seekers. Slave tales, which have been written in excess of 6,000 copies, can also give valuable information.
- Consult the Library of Congress’s collection of almost 2,300 first-person narratives of enslavement, Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1938
Secondary sources from abolitionists, abolitionist organizations and abolitionist newspapers
These three types of sources may be used to get information on freedom seekers, conductors, and safe houses. You can learn about them by reading their personal letters, diaries, organizational records, and newspaper articles:
- Personal letters, diaries, organizational records, and newspaper stories from the following three sources can be used to gather information about freedom seekers, conductors, and safe houses.
A slew of novels have been produced about the Underground Railroad, freedom seekers, and conductors, among other subjects. Check out what’s available at your local library or bookshop. A short search on the internet may be beneficial for your study. Check that any books you cite were authored by a credible source, such as John Hope Franklin, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Eric Foner, or David Blight, before citing them.
- To get you started, we recommend the following: Eric Foner’s Gateway to Freedom: The Untold Story of the Underground Railroad is a must-read.
Local and state historical societies
Inquiring with your local or state history organization is an excellent approach to learn whether or if there was Underground Railroad activity in your neighborhood. These folks are experts in all elements of your local or state history, and they are an excellent source of information.
- If you reside in Ohio, you should check out the Ohio History Connection website.
National and state park services
Some Underground Railroad or abolitionist sites may come under the administration of the National Park Agency or a state park service, while others may fall under the control of a private entity. Among other things, the home where Frederick Douglass lived at Cedar Hill is a national historic monument that is overseen by rangers from the National Park Service. nps.gov.
Colleges and universities
It’s possible that local history instructors can assist you in the proper path if you’re not sure where to begin your investigation. Some of them may also be specialists on the history of the Underground Railroad, as well as individual conductors and freedom seekers who took part in it. A number of schools and institutions have created online databases that are devoted to certain historical themes and periods. Here are a few illustrations:
- Eastern Illinois University, the Yale University Macmillan Center: Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, and the Harvard University Hutchins Center for African American Research are among the institutions involved.
Eastern Illinois University, Yale University Macmillan Center: Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, and the Hutchins Center for African American Research at Harvard University
Library of Congress and National Archives
Eastern Illinois University; Yale University Macmillan Center: Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition; and the Hutchins Center for African American Research at Harvard University
We believe that interactive learning is an excellent method to educate yourself and your family about the Underground Railroad, and that museums like ours provide a variety of learning opportunities.
Look up which museums are nearest to you and make a visit to one of them.
- Tickets to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center can be purchased online
If you’re seeking for a basic introduction to the Underground Railroad, I recommend seeing a well-regarded documentary about the subject matter. You will get an informative and inspirational understanding of the Underground Railroad and William Still, a great American hero, via the viewing of Underground Railroad: The William Still Story.
John P. Parker, Conductor, on the Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was a network of free African Americans and sympathetic whites who worked together to conceal, clothe, and escort escaped slaves to the United States and eventual freedom. It was a series of stations that were frequently attended by local vigilance committees in northern settlements that made up the “railroad.” John P. Parker was born into slavery in Norfolk, Virginia, but he was emancipated by 1845 and became a free man. He relocated to Ripley, Ohio, which had a thriving abolitionist population, and worked as an iron master during the day while rescuing escaped slaves during the evening hours.
It is thought that Parker assisted hundreds of people in escaping to freedom over the Ohio River from Kentucky along the most heavily used section of the railroad.
Because of my initial trip, I was encouraged to relocate to Ripley, where there was an iron factory.
It was as crowded as a swarm at that point in time.
There was a thriving community of living males in the area, which helped to establish it as the hub of industry and finance.
There were the top and lower boatyards, which were both busy all year.
The boatyard was located on a point of land below the stream, which provided a secure harbor in both the winter and summer.
Throughout the winter, these boats were produced in large quantities and at a quick pace.
The bottoms of these boats were built first before being painted.
The steamboats were on the move throughout the winter months, as well.
Throughout the winter and summer, a steady stream of logs ran down the river roadways into the town, which was accessible at all times.
At all times of the year, the slaughterhouses were operating at full capacity.
One mill, set back from the river, was equipped with an overhead gravity runway, which transported barrels from the mill across the stream and down to the shore, where they were loaded onto flatboats.
Sleighs or teams of four to six horses were used to transport these items into town from the countryside.
The majority of the jeans for the town and flatboats were produced by a woolen mill.
33 During the Panic of 1837, this little town was so prosperous that it transferred cash to New York banks to assist them in getting through the crisis.
A passing observation: the time period I have just been dealing with is now 60 years after the time period I have just been dealing with.
The flatboats have long since vanished, and not even a steamboat can be seen in the harbor.
The men and women of Ripley’s city have gone to their last resting place.
So swiftly does our country evolve, not just in terms of its trading locations, but also in terms of its trading practices.
Amidst this business bustle lived and moved the tiny group of old-time abolitionists.
Alexander Campbell, Rev.
Beasley, and Rev.
Abolitionists were not within the group of businesspeople, but they were anti-slavery activists.
The land was so hostile to abolitionism at the time that we could only transport fugitives out of town and through the country on specific routes that were clearly defined and limited.
Throughout the year, these guys stood guard along the riverside at all hours of the day and night.
The atmosphere became very strained.
Many Methodists expressed quiet support for the cause, would donate money to us, but would refrain from taking an active part in the fight.
Following the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law in, the attitude of the citizens of the town become even more skeptical of our organization’s activities.
I had kept a notebook in which I recorded the names, dates, and circumstances of all of the slaves I had assisted in their escape, a total of 315 at the time of writing.
However, despite the fact that the other men were similarly wary, the job continued.
Now for an experience that tested every ounce of my talent and resourcefulness in order to get me out of a sticky predicament.
His anxiousness was caused by a word from a freeman to the effect that there was a group of refugees sheltering in the woods in Kentucky approximately 20 miles from the river, which he had received.
They were completely powerless because they had no one to lead them.
I offered to go to the rescue since I was new to the field and quite enthusiastic about it.
Even the colored guy, who was once a slave, resided over the river in Kentucky with his family.
He further told me that he would transport me to the cabin of another colored slave, who would then direct me to the fugitives’ hiding place.
That night, we discovered the group in the middle of a dense forest, terrified and completely defenseless.
Since the death of their leader, they have been immobilized by terror, and they have gathered together like toddlers.
Fortunately, food had been provided by friends, so they were well nourished; otherwise, I would have been unable to do anything with them.
I drew my revolver and gave him the option of gathering up his belongings and accompanying me, or being shot in the head with a cold steel bullet.
As you will see in a moment, it was a fortunate thing for me that I did.
Due to the fact that we were in the Borderland, which was heavily guarded, and we were sure to come across one of the guards at any bend in the road, we were unable to go on with our group.
With the exception of a few clearings here and there, impenetrable trees stretched all the way down to the river, making it difficult to move during the day.
They were useless woodsmen; no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep them from tearing down the bushes and treading on dry logs, the cracking of which boomed through the woods like an alarm bell.
I quickly realized that I would have to confine them to the ravines, where the ferns and moss flourished.
I pleaded with him once again to stay near the celebration.
Fortunately, I was able to carry the celebration forward.
In pursuit of two white guys, Andcame tearing into the brush at breakneck speed.
The gentleman, having misplaced his bearings and flying by where we were resting, was arrested.
Drawing my revolver, I threatened them in hushed tones that I would shoot the first one who dared to make a disturbance, which had the effect of quieting them down.
After carefully scanning the bushes, I noticed our man being carried by a rope.
He had his arms tied behind his back, as if he were a prisoner.
It was a very tight escape for myself and my companions, for if we had continued straight ahead, we would have all been caught and taken prisoner.
With my voice, I convinced them that I was in worse danger than they were, and that, if they didn’t listen to me, I would leave them where they were and go in search of safety.
I moved forward, my party hidden behind me, to take stock of the situation.
Now that the party was ready to go forward, it was only after further threats that I was able to get securely into the brush.
Wagons rumbled past from time to time, and I didn’t dare let any of my party members get out of sight, much less move without my permission.
As a result, there was no boat waiting for us when we arrived.
My prospects were severely hampered when I came face to face with a patrol.
I had a feeling that the entire countryside would soon be buzzing like a hornet’s nest, and I was right.
As far as I was concerned, I could see the lights of the town, but they might have passed for the moon in terms of providing comfort to me in my current predicament.
My only chance was to make it to them before my pursuers did.
I just paused long enough to tell her to follow us if she was able, since I couldn’t stand the thought of waiting any longer.
The oars had to be found next, which was the following step.
I heard the howl of hounds while we were running around in circles.
Jumping into the boat to tear up a seat to use as a paddle, I lost my footing and tripped over the oars, which I had missed seeing in the darkness.
Two guys were abandoned on the side of the river.
I ignored her and continued to push off.
For one of the single men who was securely in the boat, upon hearing the woman’s cries for her husband, rose without saying anything and proceeded silently to the bank.
As I rowed away to safety, I caught a glimpse of the quiet but helpless victim in the distance.
Collins was both shocked and pleased to see me when I arrived.
James Gilliland, who lived approximately five miles outside of town at Red Oak Chapel.
See the John P.
Source: John P.
Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad, ed. Stuart Seely Sprague (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996), pp. 97–104 (John P. Parker, His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad).