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Underground Railroad

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Essay title: Underground Railroad

One Way Trip to Freedom

One hot day in 1850, a man named Jeb staggered out of the woods, looked about him to get his bearings, and plunged down a lane toward the river. He only had a few moments of freedom before he heard the baying of hounds. He splashed up to his knees in the shallow stream and wade. The dogs tried desperately to pick up the scent but the water had destroyed it. He had no time to waste. All he could think of was the North Star. That was his hope. That was where his freedom lay. (Flight to Freedom, Henrietta Buckmaster.) The Underground Railroad was a desire for all slaves. They would use the Underground Railroad when they were fed up with working for their owners to escape for freedom. The Underground Railroad is a part of my history. It has always interested me so I decided to look deeper into the history, the influential people, and the actual journey of the Underground Railroad.

Slavery had lain like a terrible sore on our country for two hundred years. Many were ashamed of it. Slave smuggling had became so profitable that the master of a slave ship could permit nine slaves out of ten to die from neglect and still lose no money. Humane men were deeply shock. They protested, and then they did more than protest they helped the Negro. The Black Africans who were enslaved fought against it from the start. Men like Thomas Jefferson, preparing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution tried to have slavery outlawed. To abolish slavery meant to abolish profits which were astronomical, profits which were shared North and South. But to not abolish slavery struck at some of the deepest principles of Americans. For the next sixty years-until the crash of the Civil War- no issue was as important as slavery. It divided homes, it spoke for the conscience, it made political parties, it challenged religion, and it turned men into brutes and into heroes. It created the Underground Railroad. The first slave who helped a fellow slave to escape drove the spike in this invisible railroad. The unknown first fugitive, the softly stepping men and women who dared the dangers of swamps and mountains and of cold and rain, the outstretched hands of friends, the disguises, the courage, the gunshots along the border, and a long invisible "train" which chugged so silently and sent up such invisible smoke- all these proved in the end irresistible. It was they who really broke the chains of slavery. According to Buckmaster, around 1831, the name came from a furious slaveholder whose slave disappeared after crossing the river. The slave name was Tice Davids, who eventually became a conductor on the railroad. The slaveholder became furious when he couldn't find the slave. He said Tice must have gone on an Underground Railroad. Friends of the fugitive slave completed the name in honor of the steam trains. The operators called themselves conductors, stationmasters, brakemen, and firemen. These were people who met fugitive slaves (passengers) and guided them along their way, giving them directions, leading them on foot or by horse, or smuggling them in carts and carriages. Conductors and stationmasters were often free blacks, or poor farmers, but they could also be wealthy, well-known citizens. They called their homes "depots" and "stations". Stations were places where runaways could stop and rest, getting a meal and a night's sleep, and perhaps fresh clothing or other help. It might be a barn, church, farmhouse, or a secret room in a town home. There was always talk of catching the next train. It was operated before and during the American Revolution and throughout the 1800's. It continued in the U.S. until the Civil War brought slavery to an end. There has been a long time mystery about the Underground Railroad. The very term Underground Railroad was a mystery. Was there really a long tunnel, dug miraculously, into which slaves disappeared? It was not a road or underground. It was any number of houses, caves, hidden rooms, attics, hay mounds, or any place that the slaves could stay without getting caught by their slave owners.

There were many people who influenced the Underground Railroad. According to Susan Altman. A large group called Quakers believed that slavery should be abolished. They were people with a religious conviction that slavery was against the will of God. They found out that the slave had been protesting for many long years and all they had to do was hold out a hand and a runaway would grasp it. They were among the first whites to help the runaways. White friends had to assume that a fugitive had no other helper in the world and had to bear as full a responsibility as the occasion demanded. They formed an important core group along with black freemen and freewomen. Some Quakers owned slaves in the south but were so uncomfortable that they

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