To Additional Underground Railroad Information

The Underground Railroad was a system to help slaves escape to the Northern Free states.  It started around the 1850's when the Fugitive Law was passed.  The Railroad was actually not underground or a train.  Instead  it was a system of stations that people went to .  The stations were the places people would rest and hide from pursuers at.  The people who worked at the stations were often the owners of the property.  The slaves hid under the floorboards or in spaces behind the fireplace.  then the runaway slaves would travel at night, following the North Star, to another station.  The railroad actually did not start in the south, but in Maryland.  The run-away slaves would make their way North by themselves.  This was the most perilous part of the journey because it was without assistance.

When the Fugitive law was passed in 1850 it became much more dangerous for the slaves and the conductors (helpers who ran, and owned the stations).  The Fugitive Law required slaves, even if they made it North could be forced to return back to their masters if they found them.  Also a conductor who was discovered helping the slaves would have to pay a  large fine and spend time in jail.

When slaves would travel on the Underground Railroad they faced many perils.  They would have to travel at night and in the forest to avoid bounty hunters hired by the slave's master.  They would also be without food between stations.  Some famous conductors were Harriet Tubman and Levi Coffin.  Harriet Tubman was a slave had escaped herself from her master in Bucktown Maryland and took the train to the North.  She returned to the South 19 times and rescued around 300 slaves.  Levi Coffin was a Quaker (most quakers were abolitionists and conductors)  He was called the President of the Railroad and helped around 3000 slaves.  In all 75000 slaves escaped way of the railroad. In the North many people were supporters of the underground railroad and anti-slavery movement. This feeling was helped by the book Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Stowe. It illustrated the horrors of slavery.  Abolitionist Frederick Douglas printed the newspaper The North Star, encouraging anti-slavery.

The Underground Railroad went through many large cities, like Washington, New York City and Boston.  Most slaves stopped at cities near the Great Lakes or in Canada.  Some of those cities in Canada were Montreal, Ontario and Collingwood.  Ohio and Pennsylvania each had many cities that were the final stop for slaves. If it were not for the Underground Railroad the Emancipation Proclamation might never have been passed and a lot more slaves would've been kept in bondage.

Harriet Tubman Biography Underground Railroad Stations Underground Railroad Bibliography Author's of the NHHS Underground Railroad Web Page

 To The Civil Rights Project Page
To US Government Lessons Plans

Teachers: Visit our sponsor for Social Studies Materials

Ordering teaching Materials through
this website will help keep it alive.

George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World

     [Lesson Plan of the Day]     [Cassutto Memorial]    [About the Author]    [Search]   [Civics Lesson Plans]