THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD1810-1850 By: Shea Palmer PD: 5
What Is the Underground Railroad? A vast network of people. They helped fugitive slaves escape to freedom. Hundreds of slaves were brought to freedom each year.
The Idea The idea came toward the end of the 1700s when a slave master was complaining that one of his slaves was helped to escape by a “society of Quakers.” In 1831 it expanded. Also in 1831 it was nicknamed “The Underground Railroad”, but the system wasn’t underground, and it wasn’t a train.
Underground Railroad Code “A friend with friends”= signal conductors used to indicate a fugitive has arrived. “Passengers, Freight, Cargo, Baggage”= escaping slaves “Canaan/ PromisedLand”= Canada “Conductor/Agent”= the men and women who operated the URR and ‘conducted’ escaped slaves to safety “DrinkingGourd”= the Big Dipper i.e. the North Star, which is what the slaves followed to get to freedom. “Forwarding”= transporting slaves from one station to the next “FreedomSeekers”= the thousands of slaves who risked their lives to get to freedom “Freedom Train/ Gospel Train”= the Underground Railroad. “Moses”= Harriet Tubman, a ‘conductor’
Underground Railroad Code Cont’d “Stations”= places of safety and temporary refuge along the escape route “Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus”= signaled to other slaves that an escape would be happening soon “Stockholder”= one who donated food, clothing, or money to the URR “The dead will show you the way”= if the stars weren’t visible, this phrase was a reminder that moss grows on the North side of dead trees “The river bank makes a mighty good road”= a reminder that tracking dogs are unable to catch the scent through water “The river ends between two hills”= clue for the directions to Ohio and Tennessee Rivers
The Expedition Most slaves travelled by wagon or on foot, but some actually travelled on a real railway. The routes were purposely indirect to throw off pursuers. The escapes contained either individuals, or small groups. Women and children had a hard time completing this difficult journey.
On The URR .They usually travelled by water because the dogs searching for them couldn’t catch the scent there. They relied on the stars to guide them to freedom If the stars weren’t out, they used the moss that grew on trees. They hid during the day and travelled by night
These were some of the routes of the Underground Railroad. Most routes cut through 14 Northern states, including Iowa, Detroit, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, as well as others. It also ran through Canada.
Who Helped? Many notable people helped slaves to freedom. John Fairfield- made many daring rescues. Levi Coffin, Quaker-helped over 3,000 slaves to freedom. Harriet Tubman- made a total of 19 trips into the South and back. She brought over 300 slaves to freedom.
Harriet Tubman- the “Moses of her people” “I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.” -Harriet Tubman Harriet Tubman, her birth name Araminta Ross, was born in Dorchester County, Maryland. She was the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, because of her 19 trips into the south and back. She even made these trips while suffering through occasional seizures. She got these seizures from a wound when she was a girl trying to help an escaping slave. 1820 - 1913 Harriet was considered such a threat to plantation owners everywhere that there was a $40,000 award for her capture.
The End of the Train The famous Underground Railroad went out of commission in 1865, after the Civil War. During its time, over 50,000 slaves escaped to freedom.