Why Is Important Ohio Key Stop Underground Railroad? (Professionals recommend)

Ohio played a major role in leading escaped slaves from lives of captivity to their dreams of freedom. “Ohio was perhaps the key state in regards to the success of the Underground Railroad because of its location.” According to Van Tine, the Ohio River and Lake Erie provided access to both Canada and Virginia.

What is the significance of the Underground Railroad in Ohio?

  • Ohio served as the northern “trunk line” of the Underground Railroad, a system of secret routes used by free people in the North South to help slaves escape to freedom. Escape routes developed throughout Ohio with safe houses where slaves could be concealed during the day.

What made Ohio an important stop on the Underground Railroad?

Oberlin was a key junction on the Underground Railroad that connected 5 different routes escaping slaves could have taken. No fugitive living in Oberlin was ever returned to bondage and has been referred to as “The Town that Started the Civil War.”

How Ohio was an important part of the anti slavery movement in the United States?

Not all Ohioans were abolitionists. However, local antislavery newspapers made Ohio an important center of the anti- slavery movement. The Ohio Anti- Slavery Society hired people to give speeches across the state to convince Ohioans to join the abolitionist movement.

Was Ohio part of the Underground Railroad?

As a result, some Underground Railroad stops existed throughout Ohio and other free states and provided freedom seekers with safe places to hide on their way to Canada. Although slavery was illegal in Ohio, some people still opposed the ending of slavery.

What was Ohio’s role in slavery?

Ohio prohibited slavery, but only in the sense that no one could buy or sell slaves within the state. Not until 1841 did Ohio enact a law so that any slave brought into the state automatically became free. Before then, Southern slave owners regularly visited Ohio and especially Cincinnati accompanied by slaves.

Was Ohio a free state?

In 1855, Ohio was a free state, but the United States still condoned slavery just across the Ohio River. To deal with these conflicting laws across state borders, the federal government passed a series of legislation known as the Fugitive Slave Laws.

Why was the Underground Railroad important?

The underground railroad, where it existed, offered local service to runaway slaves, assisting them from one point to another. The primary importance of the underground railroad was that it gave ample evidence of African American capabilities and gave expression to African American philosophy.

When did Ohio abolish slavery?

While the Ohio Constitution of 1851 banned slavery in the state, it left open one exception. The constitution states: “There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime.”

Where is the Underground Railroad in Ohio?

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – “The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a museum of conscience, an education center, a convener of dialogue, and a beacon of light for inclusive freedom around the globe. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio.”

Why did northerners oppose the abolition of slavery?

In addition, many white Northerners feared that the abolition of slavery might jeopardize their own economic wellbeing. Poor white laborers worried that emancipated blacks would come up from the South and take their jobs.

Was there any slavery in Ohio?

Although slavery was illegal in Ohio, a number of people still opposed the ending of slavery. Many of these people also were opposed to the Underground Railroad. Some people attacked conductors on the Underground Railroad or returned fugitives from slavery to their owners in hopes of collecting rewards.

How many Underground Railroad stops in Ohio?

According to research done by the Friends of Freedom Society, there are well over 20 documented Underground Railroad sites in Columbus, but since many of those are private homes, the addresses have not been made public.

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 Ohio a Union or Confederate state?

The Union included the states of Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Nevada, and Oregon. Abraham Lincoln was their President.

What state ended slavery first?

In 1780, Pennsylvania became the first state to abolish slavery when it adopted a statute that provided for the freedom of every slave born after its enactment (once that individual reached the age of majority). Massachusetts was the first to abolish slavery outright, doing so by judicial decree in 1783.

The Underground Railroad in Ohio

Nancy Dravenstott, Austin Kaufman, and Tami Sprang collaborated on this project.

Grade Level:

Using primary and secondary sources to answer questions about Ohio history, History/Historical ThinkingSkills2: History/Heritage7: Following the War of 1812, the United States was divided along sectarian lines. Ohio had a significant role in these problems, notably in the anti-slavery campaign and the Underground Railroad, which both originated in the state.

Primary Sources Used:

In the home, there are hiding spots. University of Louisville’s The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana Borderland is an excellent resource. Spring Hill (picture courtesy of the National Park Service).

Other Resources:

Powerpoint: Underground Railroad (available at the Ohio State University’s Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching’s Slideshare.net website)

Lesson Summary:

It is believed that Ohio acted as the northern “tunnel line” of the Underground Railroad, a system of hidden pathways used by free persons in the NorthSouth to assist slaves in their escape to freedom during the American Civil War. Escape routes were established throughout Ohio, with safe homes serving as hiding places for slaves throughout the daytime. Homes that were formerly utilized by fleeing slaves on their way north via the Underground Railroad may still be found in several communities in Ohio today.

Instructional Steps to Implement the Lesson:

Beginning with the Underground Railroad power point presentation, students will study photographs of common hiding spots located in a safe house and react to questions that have been prepared for them. (preassessment) Guided Lesson: Students will continue to study the power point presentation about the Underground Railroad. Stops on the Underground Railroad will be marked on each student’s Ohio map, and they will be easy to find. Closing: Think-Pair-Share Strategy: Discuss the significance of the Underground Railroad in Ohio with a partner first, then with the full class.

Post-Assessment and Scoring Guideline:

Student responses will be written responses to the following question: “Explain the role Ohio played as a component of the Underground Railroad.” The teacher’s expectations are used to determine the final grade.

Materials Needed by Teacher:

The monument shown above, which was erected by Cameron Armstrong on the campus of OberlinCollege and represents the beginnings of the Underground Railroad in Ohio, may be seen above. A critical crossroads on the Underground Railroad, Oberlin connected five separate paths that fleeing slaves may have traveled in order to escape. During the Civil War, no fugitive who lived in Oberlin was ever returned to bondage, and the town has been dubbed “The Town that Started the Civil War.” When Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, one of the stipulations prohibited slavery in any future state admitted to the Union that was located north of the Ohio River.

  1. Later, Congress amended the legislation to include a provision making it a federal criminal to help or hide fugitive slaves, which might result in harsh penalties or even imprisonment if the act was committed.
  2. Even in a free state like Ohio, living was made incredibly difficult as a result of this.
  3. This would be especially true in the lower half of the state, where inhabitants were more likely to have been previous residents of Virginia or Kentucky, or to have descended from ancestors who had lived in these states at some point in their lives.
  4. While speaking at local gatherings, anti-slavery activists may frequently transform them into a confrontational confrontation.
  5. In reality, most of the people on the network were only familiar with a few of the other users, which helped to keep everyone’s identities safe.
  6. Ohio, with around 3000 miles of pathways used by fleeing runaways, had the most active network of any other state, despite the fact that there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, including the Southern states.
  7. First and foremost, Ohio shared a border with two slave states: Virginia and Kentucky.
  8. Among all the states participating in these subterranean networks, Ohio was the one that was closest to Canada, with a distance of just roughly 250 miles or less between any point along the Ohio River and Lake Erie, where freedom might be found.

While the Pennsylvania Quakers were largely responsible for the inception of the abolitionist movement, the Ohio Quakers appeared to have been more directly involved in transporting escaping slaves on their way north and toward freedom, particularly those fleeing slaves from the Virginia plantations.

Prior to it, there was a scarcity of knowledge regarding railways in general.

There was no railroad, and there was no underground railroad with the Underground Railroad, of course.

The term railroad was utilized because the persons participating in the activities used phrases that were frequently associated with railways to describe different parts of their operations, leading to the name railroad being used.

  • OberlinCollege has erected a monument commemorating the beginning of the Underground Railroad in Ohio, designed by Cameron Armstrong and located on the college’s campus. Oberlin served as a critical juncture on the Underground Railroad, connecting five separate paths that fleeing slaves may have travelled to freedom. It has been said that no fugitive residing in Oberlin was ever returned to bondage, and the town has been dubbed “The Town that Started the Civil War” because of this. Slavery was prohibited in every new future state admitted to the Union north of the Ohio River, according to the Northwest Ordinance, which was adopted by Congress in 1787. Following the ordinance’s passage, Congress passed legislation making it a federal criminal to help or hide fugitive slaves, a crime punishable by heavy penalties or even imprisonment. In addition, plantation owners offered prizes to freelance bounty hunters in exchange for slaves who were returned. Even in a free-state like Ohio, this made life incredibly tough. Anywhere in Ohio, nearly any municipality, it is almost certain that around half of the inhabitants will be pro-slavery and the other half will be anti-slavery. In particular, this would be true in the lower half of the state, where inhabitants were more likely to be former residents of Virginia or Kentucky, or to be descended from ancestors who had lived in these two states. When slavery was a prominent topic in Ohio, it was a controversial topic. While speaking at local demonstrations, anti-slavery activists may frequently transform them into a confrontational confrontation. Abolitionists formed hidden networks in order to assist runaway slaves in their movement along a network that was neither announced nor written in order to avoid detection by the authorities. Most of the people who were on the network only knew a handful of the other users, which helped keep everyone’s identities safe. The Underground Railroad was the name given to this network of tunnels and tunneling equipment. Ohio, with around 3000 miles of pathways used by fleeing runaways, had the most active network of any other state, despite the fact that there were Underground Railroad networks all across the country, including the South. For one thing, it’s because of a technicality. The state of Ohio was bordered by two slave states, Virginia and Kentucky, at the time of its establishment. There were more than 400 miles of border between the slave state and the free state as a result. Ohio was the closest state to Canada of all the states participating in these subterranean networks, with just roughly 250 miles or less between any point along the Ohio River and Lake Erie, where freedom might be obtained. Additionally, Ohio had a significant Quaker community, which was concentrated in the state’s eastern and southern regions. While the Pennsylvania Quakers were chiefly responsible for the inception of the abolitionist movement, the Ohio Quakers appeared to have been more actively involved in transporting runaway slaves on their trip north and toward freedom, particularly those fleeing slaves from the Virginia plantation. Despite the fact that it is unclear when the name “Underground Railroad” was coined, it is believed that it was in the 1830s when true railways began to become a viable mode of transportation in the United States. It had been a long time since there had been widespread information about railways. Consider the Internet, which existed in the 1980s but was not widely known until much later by the majority of the population. Naturally, there was no train or underground network associated with the Underground Railroad. Those involved in assisting fugitive slaves were known as “underground” since their activities were prohibited by law, and therefore had to be kept secret. People participating in the activities utilized phrases frequently associated with railways to describe different parts of their operations, which led to the term “railroad” being used in this context.
See also:  What Race Helped The Underground Railroad? (Solved)

The use of the same terminology associated with railroads to describe the activities associated with the Underground Railroad became more widespread as physical railroads became more common. This allowed those actively involved in the Underground Railroad to communicate openly without fear of being turned over to the authorities by someone overhearing their conversation. At the time, these code phrases were not known outside of the network, which is understandable given their importance. The title “liberation train” or “the gospel train” was used in certain parts of the country, and in others it was referred to as “the freedom train.” By the 1850s, the name “Underground Railroad” had become the most often used in the state of Ohio.

A fugitive slave could not be assisted under state or federal law, and this was a criminal offense.

It was the plantation owner’s responsibility to apply further punishment to captured slaves when they were returned to the plantation and fields from where they had escaped.

Ohio Anti-Slavery Society

An organization known as the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was founded by a group of people who shared a strong opposition to slavery. The Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was created in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1835, and was modeled after the framework of the American Anti-Slavery Society, which was founded in 1833 in New York City. When the society was founded, its members committed to work for the abolition of slavery and the adoption of legislation to safeguard African-Americans when they were released from the bonds of slavery.

People who opposed the abolitionists’ ideals were motivated mostly by fear, which was frequently shown in mob attacks on the abolitionists’ homes and workplaces.

When the conference was held in a barn outside of Granville, a mob erupted and attacked the abolitionists who had gathered in the barn.

In addition to bigotry, and because they were unable to accept that racism, they argued that runaway slaves from the southern states would take their employment here in Ohio.

Freedom Center in Cincinnati

The fact that the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located in Cincinnati is a blessing for the state of Ohio. This center serves as a clearinghouse for information regarding the Underground Railroad and organizes educational programs to raise awareness of issues impacting African-Americans, among other things. The Center first opened its doors in 2004. There are three buildings that make up the Freedom Center, and they represent the three foundations of freedom: courage, cooperation, and perseverance.

The Freedom Center is located at 50 East Freedom Way in Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 and can be reached at (513) 330-7500. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

The Journey

Ohio was divided on the question of slavery, and only a few localities could provide complete protection. Oberlin was one of the locations where fugitive slaves may feel safe while trying to flee. Oberlin, which is located in north central Ohio, became one of the primary staging areas for fugitive slaves fleeing to Canada. More villages in the south, including Columbus and Zanesville to the east,Mechanicsburg and Urbana to the west, came together to help, as did a number of other cities. For runaway slaves, there were even more little settlements in southern Ohio, which provided them with sanctuary in an incredibly perilous region.

The major entry point into Ohio was along the Ohio River, with the most notable location being a little town known as Ripley.

Journey’s end

In search of a safe refuge where they could live with their families without the fear of being shackled in captivity, escaping slaves came across the United States of America. The only certain location was Canada (and, to a lesser extent, Mexico), although getting to these locations was far from straightforward. As soon as an escaped slave arrived on the borders of Canada, they discovered that living there was incredibly harsh, with little job and strict segregation. After escaping slaves made it to Canada, they would frequently return to Ohio, where they might join tiny enclaves of freed slaves that had already been established in remote places, where they could try to stay as inconspicuous as they possibly could.

ABOVE: The narrative of a slave was recounted at the New Boston Fair.

African-Americans helped make the Underground Railroad work

The fact that escaping slaves made the Underground Railroad feasible was the most significant component of the Underground Railroad’s history. If it hadn’t been for their daring, tenacity, and innovation, the railroad would have been nothing more than a footnote in the history of our nation’s development. It was necessary for the majority of runaway slaves not only to get away from their owner’s estate, but also from all of the areas between them and the Ohio River, as well as from all of the other entrance points between the slave and free states.

  1. Aside from avoiding their previous masters, they also had to dodge the slave-catchers who prowled the countryside in pursuit of fugitives.
  2. The runaway slaves had a tough voyage since they had to hide in the woods during the day and travel only at night.
  3. As soon as they passed over the Ohio River, they had to make contact with someone they had never met before, and they had to hope that they would be able to give them with refuge and assistance on their long voyage ahead of them.
  4. That occurred at a period when the Ohio River frequently froze over, making it possible for the runaways to cross the river without the need of a boat.
  5. The ice was frequently more like giant pieces of floating ice, which needed cautious footwork to make it safely across the river at night, just by looking at the river itself and not taking into consideration the extremely low temperatures.

Slaves who had already completed the trek to freedom would frequently return to assist others, putting their own safety and freedom at tremendous risk.

Paying the Price:

A fugitive slave from a Kentucky farm owned by John Bacon who was 17 years old at the time of his capture on September 13, 1858, by two slave hunters and two federal marshals in Oberlin, Ohio, was residing in Oberlin at the time of his arrest. Realizing that attempting to apprehend the young black man in the town of Oberlin would be difficult due to the well-known anti-slavery attitudes held by the town’s residents, they devised a plan to lure John Price away from the protection of Oberlin. On the pretext of digging potatoes for money, they persuaded Shakespeare Boynton, the son of a prominent Oberlin landowner, to accompany John Price to a farm west of Oberlin where he would be paid for his efforts.

  1. The ruse was successful.
  2. Anti-slavery activists in Oberlin were angry as soon as they saw what had happened and rallied together to try to save the slaves.
  3. By late afternoon, more than 200 people from Oberlin and Wellington had gathered outside the Wadsworth Hotel, where Price was being kept captive.
  4. There was a window with a little balcony that overlooked the town square in that room.
  5. The sheriff wanted to make sure that all of the paperwork was in order.
  6. Then, from the outside, someone set up a ladder near the room’s window, and a group of Oberlin locals climbed in via the window while another group entered through the door.
  7. Price went on the Underground Railroad to Canada a few days later, but was never seen or heard from again after that.

In lieu of posting bond, they were sent to the Cuyahoga County Jail for almost one month, where they remain today.

The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case had a significant impact on the public’s opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, which was one of the reasons that contributed to the American Civil War.

Smith, Richard Winsor, Simeon Bushnell, David Watson, William E.

Scott, Ansel W.

Peck, and James M.

Smith. Ralph Plumb, James Bartlett, John Watson, and Henry Evans are seated at the table. A technicality in their indictments caused two of the men, Jacob B. Shipherd and Orindatus S.B. Wall, to be released sooner than the others. As a result, they are not featured.

Additional information aboutthe Underground Railroad

At the time of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to flee to freedom in the northern states. Subjects History of the United States, Social StudiesImage

Home of Levi Coffin

Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist. This was a station on the Underground Railroad, a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in escaping to the North during the Civil War. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography. “> During the age of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the North, according to the Underground Railroad Museum.

Although it was not a real railroad, it fulfilled the same function as one: it carried passengers across large distances.

The people who worked for the Underground Railroad were driven by a passion for justice and a desire to see slavery abolished—a drive that was so strong that they risked their lives and jeopardized their own freedom in order to assist enslaved people in escaping from bondage and staying safe while traveling the Underground Railroad.

  1. As the network expanded, the railroad metaphor became more prevalent.
  2. In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as part of a larger organization.
  3. According to historical tales of the railroad, conductors frequently pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways out of plantation prisons and train stations.
  4. Often, the conductors and passengers traveled 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance in this day and age.
  5. Patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were usually on their tails, chasing them down.
  6. Historians who study the railroad, on the other hand, find it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
  7. Eric Foner is one of the historians that belongs to this group.
  8. Despite this, the Underground Railroad was at the center of the abolitionist struggle during the nineteenth century.
  9. Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist.
  10. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography.
  11. Person who is owned by another person or group of people is referred to as an enslaved person.

Slavery is a noun that refers to the act of owning another human being or being owned by another human being (also known as servitude). Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to flee to free states.

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Tyson Brown is a member of the National Geographic Society.


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Gina Borgia is a member of the National Geographic Society. Jeanna Sullivan is a member of the National Geographic Society.

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According to National Geographic Society’s Sarah Appleton, Margot Willis is a National Geographic Society photographer.

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Underground Railroad – Ohio History Central

According to Ohio History Central This snapshot depicts the “Freedom Stairway,” which consists of one hundred stairs going from the Ohio River to the John Rankin House in Ripley, which served as a station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Presbyterian clergyman and educator John Rankin (1793-1886) spent most of his time working for the abolitionist anti-slavery struggle. The home features various secret rooms, some of which were used to hide freedom fighters. An illuminated sign was erected in front of the home to signal that it was safe for anyone seeking freedom to approach it.

  • An underground railroad system of safe homes and hiding places that assisted freedom seekers on their journeys to freedom in Canada, Mexico, and other countries outside of the United States was known as the Underground Railroad (UR).
  • Although it is unknown when the Underground Railroad had its start, members of the Society of Friends, often known as the Quakers, were actively supporting freedom seekers as early as the 1780s, according to historical records.
  • As early as the late 1700s, slavery was outlawed in the vast majority of Northern states.
  • African Americans were forced to flee the United States in order to genuinely achieve their freedom.
  • Despite the fact that slavery was outlawed in Ohio, some individuals were still opposed to the abolition of the institution.
  • Many of these individuals were adamantly opposed to the Underground Railroad.
  • Other people attempted to restore freedom seekers to their rightful owners in the aim of receiving prizes for their efforts.
See also:  What Happened To Underground Railroad After Civil War? (Correct answer)

Over three thousand slaves were rescued from their captors and granted freedom in Canada thanks to the efforts of Levi Coffin, a Cincinnati man who lived in the late 1840s and early 1850s.

His house was perched on a three hundred-foot-high hill with a panoramic view of the Ohio River.

He gave the freedom seekers with sanctuary and kept them hidden until it was safe for them to proceed farther north in their quest for independence.

These individuals, as well as a large number of others, put their lives in danger to aid African Americans in their journey to freedom.

They typically chose to live in communities where there were other African Americans.

A total of eight communities along the Lake Erie shoreline served as embarkation locations for the freedom seekers’ journey to Canada, including Ashtabula, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Huron, Lorain, Conneaut, and Conneaut.

It is still unknown exactly how the Underground Railroad came to be known by that moniker.

In 1831, a freedom seeker called Tice Davids fled from his slave owners in Kentucky, where he had been held since birth.

Davids had arrived at the coast only a few minutes before him. Following the arrival of his boat, the holder was unable to locate Davids and concluded that he “must have gone off on a subterranean path.”

See Also

  1. “The Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad,” by Charles L. Blockson, et al. Hippocrene Books, New York, NY, 1994
  2. Levi Coffin, Hippocrene Books, New York, NY, 1994. Levi Coffin’s recollections of his time as the rumored President of the Underground Railroad. Arno Press, New York, NY, 1968
  3. Dee, Christine, ed., Ohio’s War: The Civil War in Documents, New York, NY, 1968. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007)
  4. Fess, Simeon D., ed. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007). Gara, Larry, and Lewis Publishing Company, 1937
  5. Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Company. The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad is a documentary film about the Underground Railroad. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1961
  6. Ann Hagedorn, ed., Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1961. Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad is a book about the heroes of the Underground Railroad. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
  7. Roseboom, Eugene H. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002
  8. The period from 1850 to 1873 is known as the Civil War Era. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom (Columbus, OH: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1944)
  9. Siebert, Wibur H. “The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom.” RussellRussell, New York, 1898
  10. Siebert, Wilbur Henry, New York, 1898. Ohio was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Lesick, Lawrence Thomas
  11. Arthur W. McGraw, 1993
  12. McGraw, Arthur W. The Lane Rebels: Evangelicalism and Antislavery in Antebellum America is a book about the Lane family who were antislavery activists in the antebellum era. Roland M. Baumann’s book, The Scarecrow Press, was published in 1980 in Metuchen, NJ. The Rescue of the Oberlin-Wellington Train in 1858: A Reappraisal Oberlin, OH: Oberlin College Press, 2003
  13. Levi Coffin and William Still, editors. Fleeing for Freedom: Stories of the Underground Railroad is a collection of short stories about people fleeing for freedom. Ivan R. Dee Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, 2004.

Underground Railroad

See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.

Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.

In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.

The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.

When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television?

Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.

John Brown

John Brown was a key figure in the abolitionist movement in the United States prior to the American Civil War. To the contrary of many anti-slavery advocates, he was an outspoken advocate for harsh action against slaveholders and any government officials who aided and abetted their activities. Following the violent death of Presbyterian clergyman and anti-slavery campaigner Elijah P. Lovejoy in 1837, Brown became active in the abolitionist cause.

Before the economic crisis of 1839, Brown was an entrepreneur who owned tannery and cattle dealing companies. During the ceremony, he declared, “Here before God, in the sight of these witnesses, and from this moment forward, I dedicate my life to the abolition of slavery!”

Early Life

In Torrington, Connecticut, on May 9, 1800, Owen Brown and his wife Ruth Mills Brown welcomed their first child, Brown. His father, who worked in the tannery industry, transported the family to Ohio, where the future abolitionist spent the most of his boyhood years, according to historical records. Hudson, Ohio, the Brown family’s new home, occurred to be a major destination on the Underground Railroad, and Owen Brown became involved in the campaign to rescue former slaves from their enslavement.

With his family’s blessing, the younger Brown headed out for Massachusetts and then Connecticut, where he went to school and eventually received the call to be a Congregational preacher.

Additionally, he married and began a family during this period.

Family and Financial Problems

For a while, Brown’s commercial pursuits were extremely profitable, but by the 1830s, his financial situation had taken a turn for the worst. In addition, he had recently lost his wife as well as two of his children to sickness, which did not improve his situation. He moved the family company as well as his four surviving children to what is now the city of Kent, Ohio. Brown’s financial losses, on the other hand, continued to increase, even after his remarriage in 1833. Brown relocated his firm to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he hoped to turn around his fortunes with the help of a new partner.

During this time, he also grew more acquainted with the so-called mercantile class of affluent businesspeople, as well as their frequently brutal business methods.


The family had migrated once more by 1850, this time to the Timbuctoo agricultural village in the Adirondack area of New York State, where they remained until their deaths. Gerrit Smith, an abolitionist leader, was donating property in the region to Black farmers at a period when possessing land or a home qualified African Americans to vote. Brown purchased a farm in Lake Placid, New York, where he not only farmed the property, but also served as a resource for members of the Black communities in the region, offering advice and assistance.

Bleeding Kansas

Brown’s first aggressive activities as a member of the abolitionist movement didn’t take place until 1855, according to historical records. By then, two of his sons had started their own families in the western region that would later become the state of Kansas, and he was the father of three children. His sons were active in the abolitionist movement in the territory, and they called their father out of concern that they would be attacked by pro-slavery people in the area where they lived. Brown traveled west to join his boys, confident that he and his family would be able to bring Kansas into the Union as a “free” state for African-Americans.

The Pottawatomie Rifles, a group of pro-slavery settlers, was the target of their ambush.

As a result of these and other events surrounding Kansas’ arduous transition to statehood, which was made considerably more problematic by the subject of slavery, the state was dubbed “Bleeding Kansas.” However, John Brown’s reputation as a violent abolitionist was only just getting started.

Despite this setback, however, Brown remained steadfast in his support for the abolitionist movement, traveling throughout the country to gather funds and acquire weapons for the cause. While this was going on, the state of Kansas had elections and voted to become a free state in the year 1858.

Harpers Ferry

By the beginning of 1859, Brown was spearheading raids to liberate enslaved individuals in locations where forced labor was still in use, especially in what is now the United States’ Midwestern region. In addition, he met campaigners and abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass at this time, and both of them became key figures in Brown’s life, reaffirming much of his beliefs in the process. Assisted by Tubman, whom he addressed as “General Tubman,” Brown began organizing an attack against slaveholders as well as a United States military arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), employing armed enslaved individuals who had been emancipated from slavery.

Brown recruited a total of 22 men, including his sons Owen and Watson, as well as a number of formerly enslaved persons.

John Brown’s Raid

The operation began on October 16, 1859, with the planned arrest of Colonel Lewis Washington, a distant relative of George Washington, at the latter’s residence in the vicinity of Mount Vernon, Virginia. The Washington family maintained its ownership of enslaved persons after the Civil War. Eventually, a group of men headed by Owen Brown were successful in kidnapping Washington, and the remainder of the men, commanded by John Brown, launched an assault on Harpers Ferry in order to grab both firearms and pro-slavery officials in the town.

were notified and sent reinforcements was critical to the mission’s success.

Brown, on the other hand, chose to allow the train to proceed, and the conductor was ultimately responsible for notifying authorities in Washington about the situation at Harpers Ferry.

When a baggage handler at the town’s railway station refused to obey the commands of Brown’s men, he was shot in the back and murdered.

John Brown’s Fort

Brown’s soldiers were successful in apprehending a number of local slave-owners, but by the end of the day on the 16th, the local residents had begun to resist. Soon after, they gathered a local militia, which grabbed a bridge across the Potomac River, essentially shutting off a crucial escape path for Brown and his fellow prisoners. Despite the fact that Brown and his men were able to capture the Harpers Ferry armory on the morning of April 17, the local militia quickly encircled the complex, and the two sides exchanged gunfire.

When a militia consisting of men from the BaltimoreOhio Railroad came in town, they aided the local inhabitants in repelling Brown’s invasion.

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They were able to successfully barricade themselves inside.

Brown sent his son Watson out to surrender since he had no escape path and was under heavy fire. The younger Brown, on the other hand, was shot by the militia and killed as a result.

Robert E. Lee and the Marines

President James Buchanan ordered a company of Marines under the direction of Brevet Colonel (and future Confederate General) Robert E. Lee to march into Harpers Ferry late in the afternoon of October 17, 1859. After breakfast the next morning, Lee sought to persuade Brown to submit, but he refused. The military forces assaulted John Brown’s Fort after ordering the attack by the Marines under his leadership. They managed to capture all of the abolitionist warriors and their prisoners alive. When it came down to it, John Brown’s attack on Harpers Ferry had come up short.

John Brown’s Body

Brown was apprehended by Lee and his men, who carried him to the courtroom in neighboring Charles Town, where he was held in custody until his trial could be held. An Arlington County jury found Brown guilty of treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia in November of this year. Brown was executed by hanging on December 2, 1859, when he was 59 years old. Lee and John Wilkes Booth, an actor and pro-slavery campaigner, were among those who witnessed his death on the scaffold. ) (Later, President Abraham Lincoln would be assassinated by John Wilkes Booth over his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.) After he was executed, John Brown’s wife, Mary Ann (Day), transported his body to the family property in upstate New York, where it was interred.

Abolition of slavery in the United States would occur around six years after Brown’s death, as a result of the Union’s victory over the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War in 1865.


‘John Brown’s Harpers Ferry Raid’ by the American Battlefield Trust, published in 2008. Battlefields.org. Bordewich, Francis M. (2009). “The Day of Reckoning for John Brown.” Smithsonianmag.com. “John Brown,” says the narrator. PBS.org. The following is an excerpt from Edward Brown’s Recollections on John Brown. WVculture.org. The Early Years of John Brown Albany.edu.

The Little-Known History of the Underground Railroad in New York

Cyrus Gates House, located in Broome County, New York, was formerly a major station on the Underground Railroad’s route through the country. Commons image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons There was a time when New York City wasn’t the liberal Yankee bastion that it is now. When it came to abolitionists and abolitionist politics in the decades preceding up to the Civil War, the city was everything but an epicenter of abolitionism. Banking and shipping interests in the city were tightly related to the cotton and sugar businesses, both of which relied on slave labor to produce their products.

However, even at that time, the Underground Railroad, a network of hidden safe houses and escape routes used by fugitive slaves seeking freedom in the North, passed through the city and into the surrounding countryside.

In New York, however, the full extent of the Underground Railroad’s reach has remained largely unknown, owing to the city’s anti-abolitionist passion.

“This was a community that was strongly pro-Southern, and the Underground Railroad was working in much greater secrecy here than in many other parts of the North, so it was much more difficult to track down the Underground Railroad.”

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

runaway slaves and antislavery campaigners who disobeyed the law to aid them in their quest for freedom are the subjects of this gripping documentary. Eric Foner, more than any other researcher, has had a significant impact on our knowledge of American history. The Pulitzer Prize–winning historian has reconfigured the national tale of American slavery and liberation once more, this time with the help of astounding material that has come to light through his research. Foner’s latest book, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, describes how New York was a vital way station on the Underground Railroad’s journey from the Upper South to Pennsylvania and on to upstate New York, the New England states and Canada.

  1. Their narrative represents a phase in the history of resistance to slavery that has gotten only sporadic attention from historians up to this point.
  2. The existence of the Record of Fugitives, which was collected by abolitionist newspaperman Sydney Howard Gay in New York City, was unknown to researchers until a student informed Foner of its existence.
  3. A runaway long forgotten, James Jones of Alexandria, according to Gay’s account, “had not been treated cruelly but was bored of being a slave,” according to the records.
  4. Foner reports that many fugitives ran away because they were being physically abused as much as they did out of a yearning for freedom, using terms such as “huge violence,” “badly treated,” “rough times,” and “hard master” to describe their experiences.
  5. During the late 1840s, he had risen to the position of the city’s foremost lawyer in runaway slave cases, frequently donating his services without charge, “at tremendous peril to his social and professional status,” according to Gay.
  6. Agent,” a title that would become synonymous with the Underground Railroad.
  7. He was an illiterate African-American.
  8. A number of letters and writs of habeas corpus bearing his name appear later on, as well as some of the most important court cases emerging from the disputed Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
  9. “He was the important person on the streets of New York, bringing in fugitives, combing the docks, looking for individuals at the train station,” Foner said.

that he had ever been the liberator of 3,000 individuals from bondage.” The author, who used theRecordas a jumping off point to delve deeper into New York’s fugitive slave network, also traces the origins of the New York Vigilance Committee, a small group of white abolitionists and free blacks who formed in 1835 and would go on to form the core of the city’s underground network until the eve of the Civil War.

The New York Vigilance Committee was a small group of white abolitionists and For the duration of its existence, Foner writes, “it drove runaway slaves to the forefront of abolitionist awareness in New York and earned sympathy from many people beyond the movement’s ranks.” It brought the intertwined concerns of kidnapping and fugitive slaves into the wider public consciousness.” The publication of Gateway to Freedom takes the total number of volumes authored by Foner on antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction America to two dozen.

  • His previous book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was published in 2012.
  • What was the inspiration for this book?
  • Everything started with one document, the Record of Fugitives, which was accidentally pointed up to me by a Columbia University student who was writing a senior thesis on Sydney Howard Gay and his journalistic career and happened to mention it to me.
  • She was in the manuscript library at Columbia when she mentioned it.
  • It was essentially unknown due to the fact that it had not been catalogued in any manner.
  • What was the atmosphere like in New York at the time?
  • As a result of their tight relationships with cotton plantation owners, this city’s merchants effectively controlled the cotton trade in the region.

The shipbuilding industry, insurance firms, and banks all had a role in the financialization of slavery.

They came to conduct business, but they also came to enjoy themselves.

The free black community and the very tiny band of abolitionists did exist, but it was a challenging setting in which to do their important job.

Routes were available in Ohio and Kentucky.

It was part of a larger network that provided assistance to a large number of fugitives.

It is incorrect to think of the Underground Railroad as a fixed collection of paths.

It wasn’t as if there were a succession of stations and people could just go from one to the next.

It was even more unorganized – or at least less organized – than before.

And after they moved farther north, to Albany and Syracuse, they were in the heart of anti-slavery area, and the terrain became much more amenable to their way of life.

People advertised in the newspaper about assisting escaped slaves, which was a radically different milieu from that of New York City at the time.

The phrase “Underground Railroad” should be interpreted relatively literally, at least toward the conclusion of the book.

Frederick Douglas had just recently boarded a train in Baltimore and traveled to New York.

Ship captains demanded money from slaves in exchange for hiding them and transporting them to the North.

The book also looks at the broader influence that escaped slaves had on national politics in the nineteenth century.

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was a particularly severe piece of legislation that drew a great deal of controversy in the northern states.

So that’s something else I wanted to emphasize: not only the story of these individuals, but also the way in which their acts had a significant impact on national politics and the outbreak of the Civil War. Activism History of African Americans Videos about American History that are recommended

Underground Railroad

Elijah Anderson has returned home Madison, Thousands of enslaved Africans attempted to emancipate themselves during the nineteenth century by a variety of tactics. The Underground Railroad was a system that allowed some to flee without the assistance of others, while others relied on individuals who lived along the route who had no connection to others for assistance, and still others took advantage of a system that has come to be known as the Underground Railroad. The meaning of the phrase is ambiguous, and no one knows where it came from.

  1. The fugitive was successful in locating a boat on the Ohio River’s banks, while the plantation owner was unsuccessful in locating a skiff.
  2. He believed the fugitive must have fled by an underground passageway, which he expressed his displeasure by exclaiming.
  3. Occasionally, the routes went north to Canada, while other times they headed south to Mexico and Florida.
  4. Free Blacks, Whites, Native Americans, and former slaves played the role of conductors, assisting fleeing slaves on their journey to escape from slavery.
  5. The UGRR is not a railroad, a road, or a distinct route in the traditional sense.
  6. In general, the UGRR did not have any tunnels, hidden rooms, or secret passages to speak of.
  7. At first, we believed three major pathways had been established.
  1. It goes from Posey to Vanderburgh, then Gibson and Pike, and then Vincennes and Terre Haute before arriving at South Bend. Then north into Michigan
  2. Corydon to Jackson/Jennings to Salem to Bloomington to Mooresville to Marion County to Crawfordsville to Porter then north into Michigan
  3. Madison to Fountain City to Fort Wayne to Dekalb then north into Michigan

After doing thorough study, we have discovered that there was no one path. A labyrinth of alternative pathways, hiding spots, assistance and treachery entangled the players. What is the educational value of studying the UGRR? While there are hundreds of Hoosiers who have assisted fugitives in their quest for freedom, there are also some Hoosiers who have assisted in the arrest of these fugitives. We are attempting to track down all of the individuals who had an effect on the lives of the fugitives through the State of Indiana’s Underground Railroad Initiative.

Historic reports are being written when the research is finished, seminars are being held, and educational materials are being developed so that Hoosiers may learn more about this element of our history.

Identifying locations, individuals, and events related with Underground Railroad involvement in Indiana is the purpose of this initiative, which was established in 2008.

Education and outreach to the general public The Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety (DHPA) sponsors a number of educational, training, and outreach activities for the general public as part of the Underground Railroad Initiative.

Staff members also give guidance and assistance to local historical organizations and individuals in their research efforts, as well as technical assistance in the submission of nominations for the National Register of Historic Places and the National Network to Freedom.

  • The following is a list of Underground Railroad Educational Resources:

Facilitation of Scientific Investigations This agency collaborates with organizations that contain Underground Railroad collections and refers scholars to these repositories. DHPA Aside from that, the DHPA has launched an inventory of the research that is available to the general public and maintains a bibliography of primary and secondary materials, which includes publications like as books, newspapers, and websites, that are related to the Underground Railroad. In addition, we now have a PDF version of the Dr.

The Indiana State Library is home to Dr.

Resources for the Underground Railroad

  • The Underground Railroad Sites in Indiana
  • The History of the Underground Railroad in Indiana
  • The Indiana Freedom Trails
  • And the Network to Freedom are some of the topics covered.

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