Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad

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In 1834, the National Antislavery Society organized the Underground Railroad, which comprised the combined efforts of both white and black abolitionists to aid some 100,000 enslaved persons to find their way to freedom. Under direction of the railroad's "agents," numerous slaves made spontaneous escapes from the Confederate South, while others used highly organized systems. Its "railways" were back roads, swamps, caves, forests, rivers and streams. The network's marvelously effective communication was made up mostly of unwritten material — a kind of secret society message system. Prior to the Underground Railroad's development, slaves had attempted, on numerous occasions, to find a better way of life. Called maroons, those runaways formed their own secret communities throughout Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp, and even as far south as in the Florida Everglades among the Seminole Indians. One major uprising, called "Turner's Rebellion," occurred in Southampton County, Virginia, 1831. The escape Known as "Moses" to many slaves, Harriet Tubman has become one of the most famous persons to help enslaved African Americans find freedom, and return to help aid others in their pursuit of it. Along one of Tubman's railroads, freedom seekers were given such instructions as: Follow the North Star; travel using the cover of Mother Nature; and approach homes with lanterns on hitching posts along the way to find safe houses for food and shelter. The total number of runaways and guides who were part of the Underground Railroad will never be known, owing to the movement's secrecy. No actual trains existed on the Underground Railroad, but guides like Tubman were called "conductors" and the hiding places that they used were known as "depots" or "stations." Alliance, Ohio was one of those stations. Guided north by the stars, and sometimes singing such traditional songs as Follow the Drinking Gourd, most refugees traveled at night on foot — taking advantage of Tubman's instructions (and those of other conductors) to use the natural protections offered by swamps, bayous, forests, and waterways. The overwhelming desire to avoid any more suffering and, more often than not, to preserve one's life, frequently resulted in the basic family unit's disintegration. There's another river on the other side, follow the drinking gourd. It wasn't until Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that slaves began to entertain hopeful thoughts of a truly righteous life. - Frederick Douglass.

Watch the video: Dawn of Day: Stories from the Underground Railroad (December 2022).

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