“What Was the Role of the Underground Railroads in the Escape of Slaves in the United States in the 19th Century?” Essay

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Slave abolitionists in both the North and the South organised what was called the Underground Railroad. This was not really a railroad, for it had no trains, tracks, or passengers, in the ordinary sense of the words. It was called the Underground Railroad because it was conducted in secrecy and because railway terms were used in reference to the manner of the system. This was a secret organisation of black and white people who took escaping slaves from one “safe house” or “station” to another, all the way to freedom in the North. The northern states had already abolished slavery, whereas millions of slaves continued to be enslaved in the South. The slaves would leave their cabins during the night; they were the “passengers.” The people who took the slaves one station to another were the “conductors.” There were about 3,200 people who were a part of the organisation, and between 1830 and 1860 they managed to free 100,000 slaves. The Underground Railroad necessitated many individual sacrifices and acts of heroism, in the efforts of enslaved people to find a refuge from slavery by escaping to the North and for the people helping them do that. Being involved in the underground rail, by either escaping from slavery or helping someone to escape was a very difficult and dangerous task. Aiding and abetting slaves who were seeking freedom was an illegal activity that placed all everyone involved in danger of punishment by fine, imprisonment, and enslavement. Even faced with these dangers, thousands of enslaved people planned and executed their own escape. Freed slaves would sometimes send an “agent” who would help slaves find the Railroad. They often posed as salespeople or census-takers in order to be able to make contact with the slaves who wanted to escape. This was timely because the agent had to gain the potential runaway's trust, which was what the Underground

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