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Slavery And The Underground Railroad Essay

1823 words - 8 pages

I know you're wondering, what railroad? Well the simple fact isthat everybody has heard of the Underground Railroad, but not everyoneknows just what it was. Firstly, it wasn't underground, and it wasn'teven a railroad. The term "Underground Railroad" actually comes from arunaway slave, who while being chased swam across a creek and was outof the owner's sight. The owner said "...must have gone off on anunderground railroad." That man was Tice Davids, a Kentucky slave whodecided to live in freedom in 1831. The primary importance of theUnderground Railroad was the on going fight to abolish slavery, thestart of the civil war, and it was being one of our nation's firstmajor anti-slavery ...view middle of the document...

Theidea of telling people how to do their work just seemed to fit all toowell into this scenario.The railroad didn't have a certain location. Slaves had beenrunning since the 1500's on their own. When the idea caught on amoungbrave slaves, was when it started. Slave owners in the South certainlyweren't happy about the loss of "property". It seemed like too muchmoney was being lost.This caused the South to pass the Fugitive SlaveAct of 1793. This titled slaves as property of their owners and gavepermission to the owners to retrieve runaways any where in the states,even those states that were free. The North was angry about thetreatment of the slaves and was not happy about owners being allowedto come into their states to take the slaves back. Finally, the Northdecided to do something about it. To return the fire thrown at them bythe South, they would take away something that the North thought wasmorally wrong,and the South's riches. They would help the slavesescape to freedom. The slaves were now angry, scared, and confused.Hearing of this Underground Railroad, they slowly began to run, moreand more.By 1807 a law was passed to make it illegal to import anymoreslaves. Agricultural improvements came along, and with the limitednumber of slaves left in the states, the value of the slaves went upvery quickly. Abolition Societies began to form, and along withreligious groups became active in helpin gslaves to freedom.The "Railroad" beggan to take shape. A shape that is to this dayvery hard to describe. Traks were laid to aide the slaves to freedom.People talked in secrecy to make safe paths for the slaves to run on.These were the tracks. Letters were sent that had terminology or codefor the balcks. A lot of the terms come from things found alongrailroads. This is because real railroads at this time were the newestthing and happened to be the topic of choice for conversation. Thismade it all the easier for the helpers of the railroad to communicategoing unoticed. Along the tracks, there were depots, safe houses tostay. These were houses of free whites or blacks where they could hidewhen they weren't running. The people who owned the houses were oftencalled conductors. The conductors often left a number of signs for theslaves to follow so they didn't go to houses that belonged to alliesof the slave owners. A quilt on the clothes line depicting a housewith smoke coming out of the chimney was a sign of a safe station. Awhite ring of bricks around the the top of a house's chimney wasanother sign of a good hiding spot. Shoppes that were safe often had asilohette of a fleeing man or woman on in sign. Other siggns were usedto guide the slaves. There were knocks that slaves used whenapproaching a house,animal calls, and lights hung in windows. When aslave was moving to the next house along the railroad, this was called"catching the next train." There were also songgs that ave directionsto slaves that were taught to everyone so that they might memorize theway....

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