Did slaves use a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad?
- Two historians say African American slaves may have used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad, but others say differently. Two historians say African American slaves may have used a quilt code to navigate the Underground Railroad.
Why were quilts used in the Underground Railroad?
When slaves made their escape, they used their memory of the quilts as a mnemonic device to guide them safely along their journey, according to McDaniel. The historians believe the first quilt the seamstress would display had a wrench pattern.
Why did the Underground Railroad use codes?
The need for secrecy was paramount as there were severe penalties for slaves and those who helped them to freedom. Therefore, railroad terminology was used to maintain secrecy and confuse the slave catchers.
What is the Underground Railroad quilt code?
A quilting pattern often overlooked in today’s society is the Underground Railroad quilt code. Used during the time of abolition and the Civil War, this visual code sewn into the pattern of quilts readied slaves for their upcoming escape and provided them directions when they were on their way to freedom.
What is the purpose of barn quilts?
Barn quilts began as a way to honor a loved one with a gorgeous piece of folk art. While barn quilts have been around for many years, there’s been a spike in popularity in the last two decades.
What was the quilt theory?
Quilts of the Underground Railroad describes a controversial belief that quilts were used to communicate information to African slaves about how to escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad. It has been disputed by a number of historians.
What was the Freedom Quilt?
It is believed that quilts were designed and used to communicate information to African slaves about how to escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad. Slaves named these quilts… Freedom Quilts.
What were conductors on the Underground Railroad?
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. If a conductor was caught helping free slaves they would be fined, imprisoned, branded, or even hanged.
Why did slaves use codes?
Supporters of the Underground Railroad used words railroad conductors employed everyday to create their own code as secret language in order to help slaves escape. Code words would be used in letters to “agents” so that if they were intercepted they could not be caught.
What role did the Underground Railroad play?
The Underground Railroad provided hiding places, food, and often transportation for the fugitives who were trying to escape slavery. Along the way, people also provided directions for the safest way to get further north on the dangerous journey to freedom.
How many quilt codes are there?
“They could feel or sense light through their struggle of trying to get to freedom.” Prior to 1999, the codes were unheard of even to the African American quilting community. That’s according to Marsha MacDowell, a quilt scholar and director of the Quilt Index, a massive online catalog of more than 90,000 quilts.
Who made underground railroad quilts?
But historians note that the sole source for that story was one woman— Ozella McDaniel Williams, a retired educator and quilt maker in Charleston, S.C., who recounted for Tobin a family tradition that had been passed down to her through the generations.
What does a quilt represent?
Regardless of the colors used, quilts reflect the passion and love that a quilter has for life itself. The colors in quilts are as diverse as people’s beliefs. Somehow the colors unite to form a harmonious whole, just as people may do. Quilt patterns are symbols of life and death.
Where did quilting originate from?
Quilting can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt. In the British Museum is an ivory carving from the Temple of Osiris at Abydos found in 1903 which features the king of the First Egyptian Dynasty wearing a cloak or mantle that appears to be quilted.
Why are barns red?
Hundreds of years ago, many farmers would seal their barns with linseed oil, which is an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant. Rust was plentiful on farms and because it killed fungi and mosses that might grow on barns, and it was very effective as a sealant. It turned the mixture red in color.
Quilts of the Underground Railroad – Wikipedia
Describes a contentious concept that quilts were used to relay information to African slaves about how they may escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad, as described in Quilts of the Underground Railroad. A lot of historians have expressed their disagreement with this claim.
Books that emphasize quilt use
In her book, Stitched from the Soul (1990), Gladys-Marie Fry asserted that quilts were used to communicate safe houses and other information about the Underground Railroad, which was a network of “conductors,” meeting places, and safe houses that ran through the United States and into Canada, facilitating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery and into freedom. Historiologists, on the other hand, are divided on whether quilts and songs were used to spread information about the Underground Railroad.
Ozella McDaniel Williams provided the inspiration for the book, telling Tobin that her family had handed down a narrative for centuries about how quilt designs such as wagon wheels, log homes, and wrenches were used to help slaves travel the Underground Railroad.
It began with a monkey wrench, which signified the need to gather all of the essential goods and equipment, and concluded with a star, which signified the need to travel north.
Tobin noted in a 2007 Time magazine article: “It’s distressing to be attacked while also being denied the opportunity to commemorate this remarkable oral history of one family’s experience.” I have no clue whether or not it is totally valid, but it seems sense given the quantity of research we conducted.” “I believe there has been a tremendous lot of misunderstanding concerning the code,” Dobard stated.
When Jackie and I wrote the book, we set out to suggest that it was a collection of directions.
“In Africa, there is a long-standing history of secret organizations controlling the coding of information.
In order to acquire the deeper meaning of symbols, you must first demonstrate your merit of knowing these higher meanings by not disclosing them to others,” she explained. The foreword of Hidden in Plain View was written by Wahlman.
Giles Wright, a specialist on the Underground Railroad, claims that the book is based on legend that has not been corroborated by any reliable sources. He also stated that there are no quilting codes mentioned in any memoirs, diaries, or Works Progress Administration interviews done in the 1930s with ex-slaves that have been discovered. Quilt historians Kris Driessen, Barbara Brackman, and Kimberly Wulfert do not subscribe to the premise that quilts were used to transmit messages about the Underground Railroad, as claimed by certain historians.
- Well-known historians did not feel that the idea was correct and could not see any relationship between Douglass and this viewpoint.
- Blight “At some time, the true stories of fugitive slave escape, as well as the far bigger story of those slaves who were never able to flee, must take precedence over fiction as a primary focus of educational endeavors.
- Despite this, there are museums, schools, and other organizations who think the narrative is factual.
- He likens the code of the quilts to the language in ” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot “, in which slaves meant fleeing but their masters thought was about death.
- Cecelia Pedescleaux is a quilt scholar and quilter who specializes on the Underground Railroad.
- Celeste-Marie Bernier and Hannah Durkin are two of the most talented people in the world (2016). Across the African Diaspora, artists have created artworks that depict slavery. pp. 76–77, published by Oxford University Press. Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard (ISBN 978-1-78138-267-7) are the authors (1999). Quilts and the Underground Railroad have a secret history that has been kept hidden in plain sight. Doubleday Publishing Company, New York, N.Y., ISBN 0-385-49137-9
- Abc Stacie Stukin is a woman who lives in the United States (2007-04-03). “Unraveling the Myth of Quilts and the Underground Railroad” is a book on quilts and the Underground Railroad. TIME. The original version of this article was published on April 29, 2007. Obtainable on January 23, 2013
- Abcdef Noam Cohen is a writer and musician from New York City (January 23, 2007). “In Douglass Tribute, Slave Folklore and Fact Collide”. The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City. ISSN0362-4331. Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman (Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman, eds) (September 5, 2016). Chester, New York, was a stop on the Underground Railroad in the Adirondacks. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-62585-701-9
- Reynolds, Glenn (2007). “quilts.” Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-62585-701-9
- Reynolds, Glenn (2007). “quilts.” According to Junius P. Rodriguez (ed.). The Slave Resistance and Rebellion Encyclopedia is a resource for those interested in the history of slave resistance and rebellion. Pages 407–409 in Greenwood Publishing Group’s book. 978-0-313-33273-9
- ISBN 978-0-313-33273-9 Andrew Bartholomew is a writer and poet (February 1, 2007). “Prof. Douglass debunks the Douglass myth.” Yale Daily News. Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman (Donna Lagoy and Laura Seldman, 2017)
- Retrieved on March 19, 2017. (September 5, 2016). Chester, New York, was a stop on the Underground Railroad in the Adirondacks. Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. p. 127.ISBN978-1-62585-701-9
- s^ Barbara Brackman is a writer and editor who lives in New York City (November 5, 2010). FactsFabrications-Unraveling the History of QuiltsSlavery: 8 Projects – 20 Blocks – First-Person AccountsFactsFabrications-Unraveling the History of QuiltsSlavery: 8 Projects – 20 Blocks – First-Person Accounts C T Publishing Inc., p. 7, ISBN 978-1-60705-386-6
- AbFergus M. Bordewich, p. 7, ISBN 978-1-60705-386-6
- (February 2, 2007). “History’s Tangled Threads” (History’s Tangled Threads). The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City. ISSN0362-4331. 30 April 2012
- Retrieved 30 April 2012
- Diane Cole is a woman who works in the fashion industry (2012). “Were Quilts Used as Underground Railroad Maps? – US News and World Report” (Were Quilts Used as Underground Railroad Maps?) usnews.com. 30th of April, 2012
- Brackman, Barbara (1997)Quilts from the Civil War: Nine Projects, Historic Notes, and Diary Entries, ISBN1-57120-033-9
- Burns, Eleanor
- Sue Bouchard (1997)Quilts from the Civil War: Nine Projects, Historic Notes, and Diary Entries, ISBN1-57120-033-9 (2003). The Underground Railroad Sampler is a collection of short stories about the Underground Railroad. Isbn 978-1-891776-13-7
- Cord, Xenia (Quilt in a Day) (March 2006). “The Underground Railroad” is a term that refers to a network of tunnels and passageways that connect cities to the rest of the world. Patchwork is really popular right now.14 (3). Fellner, Leigh (2010) “Betsy Ross redux: The quilt code.”
- Frazier, Harriet C. (2012) “Betsy Ross redux: The quilt code” (1 July 2004). Runaway and freed Missouri slaves, as well as those who assisted them, were documented between 1763 and 1865. McFarland & Company, Inc., p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7864-1829-9. Rice, Kym S., et al., eds., retrieved on April 30, 2012. (2011). 978-0-313-34944-7 (World of a Slave: A-I). ABC-CLIO, p. 390. ISBN 978-0-313-34944-7 (World of a Slave: A-I). Turner, Patricia A., et al., eds., retrieved 30 April 2012. (2009). The book Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African American Quilters by Shelley Zegart is available on Amazon (2008) Shelley Zegart debunks the myth of the African American Quilt Scholarship and the technique behind it. Pages 48–56 in Selvedge, (ISSN 1742-254X) Issue 21 (Jan/Feb 2008), published by the University of California Press.
Fact or Fiction: Were Quilts Used As Secret Codes for Slaves on the Underground Railroad?
The symbols that are employed in quilting have a convoluted or unknown background, which makes them very interesting. They are now recognized as the designs that distinguish antique quilts as unusual and one-of-a-kind. However, there are many who have long assumed that the symbols employed in quilts of the South during slavery were really utilized as secret signals for slaves fleeing on the Underground Railroad, and they are correct in their assumption.
The majority of specialists now wonder whether this truly occurred. Former slave, whose identity is unknown, was photographed in the 1930s. courtesy of the Library of Congress
The Underground Railroad
An underground railroad network of abolitionists – both black and white – who assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape through a network of safe homes and shelters was known as the Underground Railroad (UR). The Underground Railroad was backed by two major religious groups, the Quakers and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, from its inception in the late 1700s and continuing until the passage of the first of the Fugitive Slave Acts in 1793, when it was established. The Underground Railroad, as depicted in an 1893 picture, may have looked somewhat like this.
What if the most unobtrusive method to accomplish this goal was to hang a quilt out on the line?
The Quilt Code
Many people believe that specific quilts were employed as symbols during the Underground Railroad era, as evidenced by the publication of Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad in 2000 by authorsJacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard. In the film Hidden in Plain View, which is based on interviews with elderly African American quilter Ozella Williams, it appears that the narrative of how symbols were used to lead escape slaves is told. The monkey wrench design is one of the patterns that is thought to have had significance for enslaved people traveling on the Underground Railroad.
- The wagon wheel, drunkard’s path, and tumbling blocks are some of the other designs that have been incorporated in the quilt code as well.
- Via/Flickr One theory is that the seamstress of a plantation would instruct the other slaves on the meaning of the quilt symbols and then put up the quilt symbols that were pertinent to impending travels, such as when a conductor was about to arrive in the area.
- It was believed that the presence of a black square in the middle of the log cabin quilt was an indicator of the presence of a safe home.
- courtesy of Wikimedia Commons However, there is very little strong evidence that these patchwork symbols were employed in this manner during the time.
- Some of the folklore includes some unexplainable anomalies, such as the bear’s paw design, which is difficult to explain.
- In any case, using this path would have taken significantly longer and been significantly less direct, increasing the likelihood of getting apprehended.
- The pattern of the bear’s paws.
It doesn’t matter what you believe: quilts from the nineteenth century are some of the best ever produced, and the accomplishments of people who traveled via the Underground Railroad are some of the most brave this country has ever witnessed.
Underground Railroad Secret Codes : Harriet Tubman
Supporters of the Underground Railroad made use of the following words: Railroad conductors were hired on a daily basis to construct their own code as a secret language in order to assist slaves in escaping. The railroad language was chosen since it was a new mode of transportation at the time, and its communication language was not widely used. Secret code phrases would be used in letters sent to “agents” in order to ensure that if they were intercepted, they would not be apprehended. A form of Underground Railroad code was also utilized in slave songs to allow slaves to communicate with one another without their owners being aware of their activities.
|Agent||Coordinator, who plotted courses of escape and made contacts.|
|Baggage||Fugitive slaves carried by Underground Railroad workers.|
|Bundles of wood||Fugitives that were expected.|
|Conductor||Person who directly transported slaves|
|Drinking Gourd||Big Dipper and the North Star|
|Flying bondsmen||The number of escaping slaves|
|Forwarding||Taking slaves from station to station|
|Freedom train||The Underground Railroad|
|French leave||Sudden departure|
|Gospel train||The Underground Railroad|
|Stockholder||Those who donated money, food, clothing.|
|Load of potatoes||Escaping slaves hidden under farm produce in a wagon|
|Operator||Person who helped freedom seekers as a conductor or agent|
|Parcel||Fugitives that were expected|
|Patter roller||Bounty hunter hired to capture slaves|
|Preachers||Leaders of and spokespersons for the Underground Railroad|
|River Jordan||Ohio River|
|Shepherds||People who encouraged slaves to escape and escorted them|
|Station||Place of safety and temporary refuge, a safe house|
|Station master||Keeper or owner of a safe house|
Following that will be Songs of the Underground Railroad. Underground Railroad codes, coded language, coded music, Underground Railroad followers, underground railroad, supporters of the Underground Railroad Underground Railroad is a subcategory of the category Underground Railroad.
Speaker describes quilt code used by slaves on undergound railroad
- While fighting for freedom, it was an ingenious system that was developed during a time of life and death struggle. It’s referred to as the quilt code. To prepare for and then travel along the Underground Railroad, which was established approximately 30 years before the Civil War to assist enslaved people in reaching locations where they could live as free men and women, slaves used the code to communicate with one another. Earlier this month, Brittney Westbrook, of the Evansville African-American Museum, spoke about the quilt code and the Underground Railroad at the Henderson County Public Library. According to her, “from the very beginning of American slavery, people fought for their freedom through the Underground Railroad.” “The quilt code was a subversive system that was used to communicate with people without actually saying anything to them,” says the author. Westbrook said some historians believe that African-American seamstresses were the ones to develop the quilt code because they were the ones doing the sewing. Different quilting patterns represented different codes that runaway slaves needed to remember. For example, the monkey wrench pattern told slaves to “prepare the tools they’d need along the way, including their mental and spiritual tools,” Westbrook said. It was a “secret symbol” drawn on the ground, she explained, indicating that someone was safe to speak with and thus the log cabin quilt pattern. In addition, the symbol advised people to seek shelter. According to Westbrook, the bowtie pattern indicated that slaves should disguise themselves or put on a change of clothes, and the flying geese pattern indicated a direction to follow, such as the direction in which the geese would fly. A sampler quilt containing all of the different code patterns would be sewn by a (slave) plantation seamstress, according to Westbrook. “Slaves would look at the sampler to memorize the codes. Then the seamstress would make a large quilt per each code pattern. The seamstress would hang the quilts one at a time so to reinforce the code patterns and their associated meanings. So when slaves made their escape, they used their memories of the quilts to guide them safely along their journey.” “Historians believe that the first full-size quilt a seamstress would hang up would be the monkey wrench pattern,” she said. “This would tell the slaves to gather their tools and prepare for the journey. The second quilt pattern would be the wagon wheel which would tell slaves to load the wagon or prepare to board the wagon to begin their escape.” and so on. Westbrook said there is some debate regarding the legitimacy of the quilt code. “Many people question whether the quilt code is real,” she said, due to a lack of written evidence. “We have an oral tradition basis (for the quilt code) but not a written legacy because the underground railroad was meant to be subversive, so very few things were written down about it.” Like the quilt code, most of what historians have pieced together about the Underground Railroad, its network of trails and those assisting runaway slaves, did not come from documents, she said. Evansville was a key area for the Underground Railroad, Westbrook said, since enslaved people in Henderson could get to freedom by traveling the roughly 10 miles into Indiana. “There was a slave market in Henderson,” she said. Many of those in the African-American population settled in Evansville to stay near family members still enslaved in Henderson and Owensboro, Westbrook said. There were four stops of the underground railroad in Evansville. While the slave market was an active place in Henderson, there were Henderson residents who opposed it and slavery, she said. “The network of abolitionists helping slaves go north or deeper south were everyday people – farmers, church members. People in Henderson and Evansville, who were part of the Underground Railroad, were just everyday people – people who were bringing African-Americans along the underground railroad to help them escape to freedom,” she said. Some provided temporary housing, while others provided food, clothes and supplies. Traveling the Underground Railroad was dangerous, Westbrook said. It was dangerous if you as a slave got caught, and it was dangerous for those helping slaves escape. If a runaway slave was caught they would be “tortured,” she said. “They may chop your ear totally off
- Cut a piece off of your ear or cut off a foot so there were genuine hazards in getting away.” She said that there was also a serious danger for anyone who assisted fugitive slaves. “Others in Gibson County, Indiana, have had their farms destroyed because they assisted people in escaping through the underground railroad, according to what we’ve learned. Two white men were hanged for their involvement in the Underground Railroad, which we are aware of as well.” The majority of Westbrook’s talk at the library, which included library staffer Nancy Voyles, contained knowledge that was fresh to those in attendance. “Ms. Westbrook is an excellent public speaker. A great deal about that period of history is familiar to her “Voyles made the statement. “Finding out the significance of the many quilt motifs was a great experience for me. Because even today, as you drive down the road, you’ll see the symbols painted on the sides of barns and other structures.” “There were a lot of things I didn’t know,” Voyles admitted of his research into the Underground Railroad and the Quilt Code. “My knowledge of the Underground Railroad was limited, but hearing her speak about the people who worked on it, the conductors who worked on it, and all the many roles that people had in it, I thought was quite intriguing. It helped me to expand my vocabulary.” “I believe the most surprising thing for folks is discovering information that they were previously unaware of,” Westbrook told The Gleaner in a subsequent interview. “Due to prejudice and segregation, much of African-American history has been suppressed, and some of it has been accidentally forgotten or forgotten entirely. However, African-American history is part of the larger American story.” “Education about African-American history in general, as well as assisting people in understanding the culture, are two of my favorite things to do. Once again, African-American history is part of the larger American story.” Those interested in learning more about the Underground Railroad are encouraged to visit the Evansville African American Museum, according to Westbrook. “It’s free and open to the public, and we encourage everyone to visit the museum.”
Underground Railroad Quilt
I recently discovered about the Underground Railroad Quilt, which is a fable or myth about how quilts were used to communicate with escaping slaves during the Underground Railroad era. Now, I’m not a quilter because I’m just too impatient. But I adore riddles and patterns, and I’m fascinated by how quilters transform bits of fabric into pieces of art using their imaginations, their hands, and their patience. In addition, quilts with hidden codes embroidered into them are quite interesting. Here’s a quick rundown of the past: Before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad was a network of liberated slaves and abolitionists who worked together to provide slaves with hidden passageways, safe houses, and food as they made their way north to free states and Canadian territory.
- The act of teaching slaves how to read or write was also prohibited by law, making communication difficult and perhaps dangerous.
- Stories and songs told around a campfire at night were coded messages intended to educate them the symbols they would encounter on the path ahead of them.
- American-Historama.org (Click on the image to be taken to the source) Monkey Wrench – Collect the items you’ll need to travel, create a shelter, and protect yourself in the wilderness.
- Crossroads– This symbol represented Cleveland, Ohio, a place where various paths lead to liberty.
- Change out of your slave garments and into your freedmen’s attire.
- North Star – Pay attention to the North Star.
- Is it true or false?
The achievements of the Underground Railroad are nothing short of astounding.
Their efforts were impeded by rules that made it unlawful to aid fugitive slaves in their pursuit of freedom.
They put their livelihoods and, in some cases, their lives at stake.
Slave yet free at the same time.
There are two classes of people: the rich and the poor.
They provided slaves with the TOOLS they need in order to live.
They offered SAFE HOUSES as well as SUPPORT during the journey.
Today, we are confronted with a different, but no less destructive, form of slavery.
Slavery is against the law.
It is remarkable to reflect on the progress made in the movement to eradicate human trafficking, protect the vulnerable, and provide support to victims and survivors since the historic passage of Proposition 35/CASE Act, which was proposed by California Against Slavery and the Safer California Foundation in 2012.
And, most recently, the state budget included a recurring $10 million allocation for human trafficking services and support programs.
Dedicated public servants and committed service providers are working together in counties, cities, and communities across our state to provide public awareness campaigns, housing, transitional living support, health services, counseling, education, and legal assistance, as well as to expand services to underserved populations.
- Let’s take a look back at the lessons learned in the past.
- Work in a collaborative environment.
- Follow in the footsteps of the survivors.
- Provide life skills and education to those who need it.
- Be fearless and forward-thinking.
and how to get in touch with them. This is a resource that is alive and breathing. We know that some of you may have been overlooked; thus, please submit your organizationshere. I’m honored to serve beside you. Ginger Shaw is a woman who works in the fashion industry.
Did Slaves Really Use Quilt Codes on the Underground Railroad?
Michael Pollick is an American film director and producer. Escaping slaves most likely did not plan their routes based on 17 distinct quilts and secret messages. After a picture on the pedestal of a statue of the great black politician and abolitionist Frederick Douglass sparked debate about the historical veracity of the incident represented, the statue was removed from the pedestal in 2007. This quilt was created to celebrate the bravery of “conductors” along the Underground Railroad, which was a grassroots initiative to assist Southern slaves in their escape to the northern free states or Canada during the Civil War.
- One narrative that may or may not be true includes the usage of quilt codes, which are hidden symbols that were woven onto quilts and posted outside friendly homes as signals for fugitive slaves trying to flee.
- According to popular belief, the narrative of the quilt codes was discovered through interviews with former slaves or their relatives that took place in the 1930’s.
- Despite the fact that slave owners were unlikely to have realized the importance of the quilt designs, slaves plotting an escape through the Underground Railroad were claimed to have memorized the quilt codes.
- According to legend, particular fabric codes would be exhibited in a precise order in order to give slaves adequate time to prepare for their abolitionist mission.
In the second of these quilt codes, the slaves were instructed to pack their belongings as though they were going on a wagon trip, as represented by the “Wagon Wheel.” In the years that followed, the quilt codes were frequently altered to include precise information that fleeing slaves would need to know on their journey.
- The use of other quilt codes, such as “Bow ties” or “Britches,” would instruct fugitive slaves to dress in a more formal manner or to conceal their identity.
- Certain quilt codes, such as “Log Cabin” or “Shoo-fly,” were allegedly used to signify friendly members of the Underground Railroad or free blacks who were knowledgeable with the scheme if an escaped slave needed to find a safe place for food or shelter.
- There are certain inherent flaws with the tale of the quilt codes, despite the fact that it appears to match with the known historical facts of the Underground Railroad.
- Other quilting patterns associated with the quilt codes were not invented until after the war.
- If sympathetic “conductors” on the Underground Railroad did hang quilts or other banners as hidden signals, it would be impracticable to have 17 separate quilts holding all of the purported quilt codes in one house.
- It was the efforts of renowned black television program presenter Oprah Winfrey and others who sought out stories about the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad, whether true or not, that helped to further publicize the topic of quilt codes and their significance.
- An InfoBloom contributor who contributes on a regular basis, Michael likes conducting research in order to satiate his insatiable curiosity about a wide range of obscure topics.
Michael worked as an English instructor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ before he decided to pursue a career as a professional writer.
Michael Pollick is an American film director and producer. An InfoBloom contributor who contributes on a regular basis, Michael likes conducting research in order to satiate his insatiable curiosity about a wide range of obscure topics. Michael worked as an English instructor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ before he decided to pursue a career as a professional writer.
You might also Like
26 Hollywood A-Listers Who Are Extremely Wealthy Are you able to guess which team these athletes represented? Any American should be able to pass this quiz on US history. Do you recognize any of the celebrities that wore these iconic ensembles? Predicting the weather with the most beautiful women in the world Amazing Optical Illusions that will fool your eyes and trick your brain You Don’t Want to Miss These 40 Wedding Photographic Faux Pas 17 Intriguing Maps That Will Change Your Perspective on the World
Myths About the Underground Railroad
When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery enabled those events to take place, never to be lost again. Few institutions from the black past have drawn greater attention recently from teachers, students, museum curators and the tourism industry than the Underground Railroad, one of the most venerable and humanitarian ideas in our ancestors’ long and horrible experience in human bondage.
In order to communicate the truth about the past as it actually happened, scholars have put in a great lot of work to distinguish between fact and fiction, which has always been an important component of presenting it as it really happened.
Sometimes when I hear our students talk about the Underground Railroad, it seems to me that they are under the impression that it was akin to a black, Southern Grand Central Station, with regularly scheduled routes that hundreds of thousands of slave “passengers” used to escape from Southern plantations, aided by that irrepressible, stealthy double agent, Harriet Tubman.
As described by Wilbur H.
Running slaves, frequently in groups of up to several families, were said to have been directed at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ secret name for the North Star.
The Railroad in Lore
Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.
When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.
scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.
A Meme Is Born
As Blight correctly points out, the railroad has proven to be one of the most “enduring and popular strands in the fabric of America’s national historical memory.” Since the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans, particularly in New England and the Midwest, have either made up legends about the deeds of their ancestors or simply repeated stories that they have heard about their forebears.
It’s worth taking a look at the history of the phrase “Underground Railroad” before diving into those tales, though.
Tice Davids was a Kentucky slave who managed to escape to Ohio in 1831, and it is possible that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was invented as a result of his successful escape.
According to Blight, he is believed to have said that Davids had vanished as though “the nigger must have gone off on an underground railroad.” This is a fantastic narrative — one that would be worthy of Richard Pryor — but it is improbable, given that train lines were non-existent at the time.
The fleeing slave from Washington, D.C., who was tortured and forced to testify that he had been taken north, where “the railroad extended underground all the way to Boston,” according to one report from 1839, was captured.
constructed from Mason and Dixon’s to the Canada line, upon which fugitives from slavery might come pouring into this province” is the first time the term appears.
14, 1842, in the Liberator, a date that may be supported by others who claim that abolitionist Charles T. Torrey invented the phrase in 1842, according to abolitionist Charles T. Torrey. As David Blight points out, the phrase did not become widely used until the mid-1840s, when it was first heard.
Myth Battles Counter-Myth
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.
Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.
Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.
In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”
Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism
That’s a little amount of history; what about those urban legends? The answers are as follows: It cannot be overstated that the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement itself were possibly the first examples in American history of a truly multiracial alliance, and the role played by the Quakers in its success cannot be overstated. Despite this, it was primarily controlled by free Northern African Americans, particularly in its early years, with the most notable exception being the famous Philadelphian William Still, who served as its president.
- The Underground Railroad was made possible by the efforts of white and black activists such as Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett, Calvin Fairbank, Charles Torrey, Harriet Tubman and Still, all of whom were true heroes.
- Because of the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the railroad’s growth did not take place until after that year.
- After all, it was against the law to help slaves in their attempts to emancipate themselves.
- Being an abolitionist or a conductor on the Underground Railroad, according to the historian Donald Yacovone, “was about as popular and hazardous as being a member of the Communist Party in 1955,” he said in an email to me.
- The Underground Railroad was predominantly a phenomena of the Northern United States.
- For the most part, fugitive slaves were left on their own until they were able to cross the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon Line and thereby reach a Free State.
- For fugitives in the North, well-established routes and conductors existed, as did some informal networks that could transport fugitives from places such as the abolitionists’ office or houses in Philadelphia to other locations north and west.
(where slavery remained legal until 1862), as well as in a few locations throughout the Upper South, some organized support was available.
I’m afraid there aren’t many.
Furthermore, few dwellings in the North were equipped with secret corridors or hidden rooms where slaves might be hidden.
What about freedom quilts?
The only time a slave family had the resources to sew a quilt was to shelter themselves from the cold, not to relay information about alleged passages on the Underground Railroad that they had never visited.
As we will discover in a future column, the danger of treachery about individual escapes and collective rebellions was much too large for escape plans to be publicly shared.5.
No one has a definitive answer.
According to Elizabeth Pierce, an administrator at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the figure might be as high as 100,000, but that appears to be an overstatement.
We may put these numbers into context by noting that there were 3.9 million slaves and only 488,070 free Negroes in 1860 (with more than half of them still living in the South), whereas there were 434,495 free Negroes in 1850 (with more than half still living in the South).
The fact that only 101 fleeing slaves ever produced book-length “slave narratives” describing their servitude until the conclusion of the Civil War is also significant to keep in mind while thinking about this topic.
However, just a few of them made it to safety.
How did the fugitive get away?
John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, as summarized by Blight, “80 percent of these fugitives were young guys in their teens and twenties who absconded alone on the majority of occasions.
Because of their household and child-rearing duties, young slave women were significantly less likely to flee than older slave women.
Lyford in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had been a long and difficult journey.” 7.
What is “Steal Away”?
They used them to communicate secretly with one another in double-voiced discussions that neither the master nor the overseer could comprehend.
However, for reasons of safety, privacy, security, and protection, the vast majority of slaves who escaped did so alone and covertly, rather than risking their own safety by notifying a large number of individuals outside of their families about their plans, for fear of betraying their masters’ trust.
Just consider the following for a moment: If fleeing slavery had been thus planned and maintained on a systematic basis, slavery would most likely have been abolished long before the American Civil War, don’t you think?
According to Blight, “Much of what we call the Underground Railroad was actually operated clandestinely by African Americans themselves through urban vigilance committees and rescue squads that were often led by free blacks.” The “Underground Railroad” was a marvelously improvised, metaphorical construct run by courageous heroes, the vast majority of whom were black.
Gara’s study revealed that “running away was a terrible and risky idea for slaves,” according to Blight, and that the total numbers of slaves who risked their lives, or even those who succeeded in escaping, were “not huge.” There were thousands of heroic slaves who were helped by the organization, each of whom should be remembered as heroes of African-American history, but there were not nearly as many as we often believe, and certainly not nearly enough.
Approximately fifty-five of the 100 Amazing Facts will be published on the website African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. On The Root, you may find all 100 facts.
Underground Railroad Symbols: Secret Codes ***
The reason the name was chosen was this date coincided withthe time the first railroads began to run in America – refer toAmerican Railroads.The word “underground” was added meaning a covert group organized to hide a secret operation.Underground Railroad Symbols for kids: Symbols and SignsThe”Underground Railroad”, operating under essential secrecy, adopted many symbols and signs that were made known to the fugitive slaves:● Passwords were used to ensure the fugitives were genuine ● Messages were sent by drumming stones together ● The hoot of an owl was used to convey messages ● Certain Songs were sung as symbols of Underground Railway members ● “All Clear” was conveyed in safe houses using a lighted lantern in a certain place as this symbol ● Knocks on doors used a coded series of taps as symbols of identity ● Certain items, such as a quilt, were hung on a clotheslineUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids: Quilt CodesUnsubstantiated theories has been offered that quilts were made containing Underground Railway symbols.
The use of symbols on quilts were said to be an effective way for slaves to communicate nonverbally with each other andhelp each other to escape.
Symbols used to indicate routes:●Geese symbols flying North●Crossroads symbols that indicated Cleveland, Ohio●Bears Paw symbols conveying a message to take a mountain route●Bow tie symbols meaning it would be necessary to change from slave clothing●Broken dish symbols which would be used as directional symbols along the escape route● Symbols of log cabins told slaves to look for this symbol on their journey to freedom●Box symbols that indicated it was time to pack (box-up) ready to escape● Patterns called a monkey wrench were were symbols reminding slaves to prepare for the journey taking weapons or tools that would helpon their journey ● North Star symbols indicating the way to freedomUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids: The Secret Code NamesOnce the name”Underground Railroad”had been established, it was logical to use other secret words, phrases, codes, signs and symbols that referred to the operation of a real railroad.
At this time everyone was talking about the new American railroad.
Slaves weregiven a ‘ticket’Operator or Engineer -Other names for a conductor (the guides)Jumping off place -Place of safe shelter for fugitive slavesPatty Rollers or Paddy Rollers -Patty Rollers, Pattyrollers or Paddy Rollers were slave catchers.
Thewords, phrases and symbols used in the”Underground Railroad” relating to religion were as follows:Underground Railroad Symbols for kids – ReligiousWords, Signs and Symbols-Meaning and DefinitionCanaan -Canaan was a biblical term used to mean CanadaHeaven -The word used to describe the destination of a fugitive, usually referring to CanadaPreachers -Abolitionists or leaders of the”Underground Railroad”River Jordan -The secret code word for the Ohio RiverShepherds -Shepherds were alternative names for Conductors meaning those who guided fugitive slaves between safe housesMoses -Moses was the code name of Harriet Tubman, the most famous conductorGospel Songs -Gospel songs like “Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus”, “Swing low, sweet chariot” and “Wade in the Water” were used to indicate that an escape plan was about to be carried out or give reminders to use water to travel by.
The song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” was a reminder to follow the North Star – as this would always lead the way to freedomWords, Signs and Symbols-Meaning and DefinitionUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids – ReligiousUnderground Railroad Symbols: Other Code words and phrasesOther secret words, phrases and symbols relating to the”Underground Railroad” were also used to extend the vocabulary of the network as follows:Underground Railroad Symbols and PhrasesPhrases-Meaning and Definition”The river bank makes a mighty good road” -A reminder to travel by water”The wind blows from the South today” -An alert that fugitive slaves were in the area”The dead trees will show you the way” -A reminder that moss grows on the North side of dead trees useful when the stars were not visible”Left foot, peg foot” -A description of a certain conductor”The friend of a friend sent me” -Password used by slave fugitivesPhrases-Meaning and DefinitionUnderground Railroad Symbols for kids – ReligiousUnderground Railroad Symbols: Other Useful Words and PhrasesOther useful words and phrases associated with the”Underground Railroad” are as follows:Underground Railroad – Meaning of Useful Words and PhrasesWords and Phrases-Meaning and DefinitionAbolitionist -A social reformer in favor of abolishing slaveryAntebellum -Antebellum is the name given to historical era that preceded the Civil WarEmancipation -Emancipation is the act of setting a person free from slaveryManumission -Manumission the formal act of freeing from slavery.A written legal document freeing a person from slaveryFree States -Free States that did not allow slaverySlave States -Slave States permitted slaveryThe Mason-Dixon Line -The Mason-Dixon Line is the boundary line dividing the northern free states from the southern slave statesThe ‘Gag rule’-TheGag Rulewas a provision that prevented the discussion of a topic in Congress, such as abolishing slaverySecession -Secessionwas the withdrawal of eleven Southern states from the Union in 1860 which precipitated the American Civil WarFugitive Slave Law -The Fugitive Slave Laws were acts passed by Congress in 1793 and 1850 outlawing any efforts to impede the capture of runaway slavesMulatto -A word used to describe a child of a black person and a white personWords and Phrases-Meaning and DefinitionUnderground Railroad – Meaning of Useful Words and PhrasesBlack History for kids: Important People and EventsFor visitors interested in African American History refer toBlack History – People and Events.A useful resourcefor teachers, kids, schools and colleges undertaking projects for the Black History Month.Underground Railroad Symbols for kids – President Andrew Jackson VideoThe article on the Underground Railroad Symbols provides an overview of one of the Important issues of his presidential term in office.
The following Andrew Jackson video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 7th American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837.Underground Railroad Symbols● Interesting Facts about Underground Railroad Symbols for kids ● Underground Railroad Symbols for kids ● The Underground Railroad Symbols, a Important event in US history ● Andrew Jackson Presidency from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837 ● Fast, fun, interesting Underground Railroad Symbols ● Picture of Underground Railroad Quilt Symbols ● Underground Railroad Symbols for schools, homework, kids and children