The Underground Railroad marks a devastating time in our nations History. It is a topic that is generally known but not in depth. Starting in the early 1800’s the Underground Railroad was a way for the slaves to reach their freedom. Initially, I believed that there really was an actual underground tunnel, or railroad that slaves walked through that went from the South to the North. Through my research I have discovered that it was neither of the two, it was a variety of safe places in houses, barns, shops, churches, and schools where slaves could hide out and stay (Ohio History Central).
Then how is it that this name came to be? At that same time the railroad industry was growing and the way slaves traveled was similar to that of a train. They use the term underground because they couldn’t be seen and had to be secretive (PBS). According to Pathways To Freedom, as the slaves traveled they would move from destination to destination hoping to not be found with the help of what were called “conductors”. Conductors were usually white abolitionist but were also free blacks like Harriett Tubman, whereas the runaway slaves were called “passengers” (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). Aside from the terminology, what I wondered most while researching this topic was what state was the most visited and traveled through and why? Multiple sources suggest that Ohio was the most visited state because of its location. With questions still unanswered I decided to dig deeper into the Ohio’s role in the Underground Railroad.
Three thousand miles of the Underground Railroad was embedded in the state of Ohio making it the most visited state of the 14 (Ohio History Central). Some slaves who ran away looking for freedom would end their destination in a northern free state, others though were skeptical and afraid of being caught so they kept going until they reached Canada. Ohio was a crucial destination because slaves would only need to go through the Ohio River Valley until they reached Canada. According to History.net, 40,000 of the estimated 100,00 slaves that escaped the south traveled to Canada from Ohio. The state of Ohio also had about 450 “stations” or “depots” that waited for all these runaways to arrive, and to facilitate them across the river valley (Rodriguez 34). Princeton University claims that the term “Underground Railroad” came from a runaway known as Trice Davis who escaped from his owner who was quoted saying “…must’ve gone off on an underground road” (Princeton University).
Of the many abolitionists that aided with the Underground Railroad, one whom I found to be very important and famous was Levi Coffin. A source I found very helpful was Documenting The American South. What I learned from this source was that Levi Coffin was better known as the President of the Underground Railroad because of his involvement in the abolitionist movement. As Hoskins notes in this source Coffin and his wife Catherine moved to Wayne County, Indiana where they...