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The Underground Railroad Essay

1317 words - 6 pages

Slavery has been around since before the new millennium and is still around today. Unfortunately, slavery was a key part of the colonization of America. From the early 1600’s to the end of the United States’ civil war, many people accepted slavery. Several of the founding fathers were the owners of slaves, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and others. The earliest slaves in the colonies were guaranteed land and freedom in exchange for seven years of labor; however, not everyone was granted this freedom. Throughout time, the population grew and with it, the number of slaves increased. As the slave trade increased, so did opposition. With the invention of the ...view middle of the document...

The Underground Railroad originated during the early 1700’s. During this time, it started in the southern slave states and proceeded overseas, or south to Florida which was ruled by Spain. The most commonly known and talked about part of the Underground Railroad took place in the mid 1800’s, after the institution of the fugitive slave act of 1850, which started in the south and proceeded north into the free states and Canada. It is said that up to one hundred thousand slaves escaped using the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad would have been nothing without the help from abolitionists, conductors, and persons eager to help those in need. The conductors were freed individuals, black and white, who helped the fugitive slaves along their paths to freedom. These conductors and abolitionist came from many different lifestyles, ranging from white church members to sailors to escaped slaves. Some of the most famous escaped slaves that returned to help others include well known Harriet Tubman, John Parker, and Frederick Douglass. These were the most courageous of people, who fought through the harsh conditions, darkness, cold, and fear in order to help the escaped slaves to the safety and comfort of freedom. With the passage of the second and stronger Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, the desire for fugitive slaves to escape to Canada grew much more intense. They faced the harsh realization that they could either die a slave, or attempt to escape to slave free Canada.
Harriet Tubman was born in Araminta Ross, Maryland in 1822, and was raised as a slave. When Harriet was a teenager, she suffered a head injury from getting a large stone thrown at her head after she defended a field hand she worked with. This head injury resulted in intense migraines and seizures; however, these symptoms also gave her visions that she understood as the word of God. The visions inspired many of her trips to the North that lead others to freedom. She escaped to Pennsylvania in 1849 because it was a free state, and began her mission of freeing slaves from the oppressions of slavery. She returned to Maryland numerous times over the next decade to rescue her family members and other individuals from slavery (info from http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/explore/harriet-tubman/). Initially Harriet guided people to Philadelphia, New York, and other free states, but in 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act allowed slave-catchers full authority all over the United States so she began to lead individuals to Canada for freedom (info from WYELS, JOYCE GREGORY). Every time Harriet helped others to freedom she was putting herself in immense danger because she herself was a runaway slave, and there were multiple bonds out for her arrest. These dangers did not stop her from helping others to slavery, and throughout her life, she helped over three hundred people out of slavery and was never caught. Later in her life,...

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