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The Path To Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Act

1090 words - 5 pages

Finally they were free. After months of traveling and hiding, not knowing if they would be caught, they finally made it to the North. Their trip would have ended there if it had not been for the Fugitive Slave Act. This act stated that the people in the North were required by law to return runaway slaves. This made it necessary for runaway slaves to endure more difficult terrain to reach their ultimate goal, Canada. Not only did slaves want to be free, but many Americans also thought that slavery was wrong and wanted it abolished. Slavery was an issue throughout the 1800’s in America, and it was highly debated and eventually resolved by a terrible and bloody Civil War. Due to the desire of some Americans to abolish slavery, the Underground Railroad was established, leading to a strict Fugitive Slave Act.
Throughout the 1800’s in America, abolitionists worked day and night to end slavery. The abolitionists studied and invoked the Constitution to find new ways to argue against slavery. One of the most famous abolitionists was Frederick Douglass. He was an African-American social reformer and orator that fought against slavery. He escaped from slavery and later educated himself. He gave speeches, wrote books, and protested against slavery for most of his life. Many white people also protested against slavery including John Fairfield. He was the son of a slaveholding family, and he made daring rescues to aid runaway slaves. Even Though it bankrupted his family, he acted on what he believed, even if other people did not support his beliefs. Throughout this time period, abolitionists worked endlessly to help slaves, and in the process they helped create a system to lead slaves into the North.
The Underground Railroad made it possible for slaves to escape after years of hard labor, and provided a path to freedom and a new life. The Underground Railroad was neither underground, nor a railroad, but a general term for the path that led to the North. There was no central leadership around it, but it consisted of three main parts, the “conductors”, the “station”, and finally, the actual “railroad”. Conductors helped lead fugitive slaves to their destination. Most of the time, conductors would only lead them a part of the way until they were handed off to another conductor, but sometimes conductors led them the entire journey. One of the most famous conductors was Harriet Tubman. After she escaped from slavery in 1849 she vowed to return for her family. She not only did this, but she took nineteen trips from the South to Canada and guided more than 500 slaves to freedom! But not all slaves were lucky enough to have a conductor to guide them. Sometimes slaves would find their own way to freedom by following the North Star. The second aspect of the system was the stations. The stations were locations where slaves stayed during the day, so they could travel in secret by night. Stations consisted of houses, barns, attics, and sometimes places like caves. The...

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