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Underground Railroad

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Essay title: Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad

I know you're wondering, what railroad? Well the simple fact is that everybody has heard of the Underground Railroad, but not everyone knows just what it was. Firstly, it wasn't underground, and it wasn't even a railroad. The term "Underground Railroad" actually comes from a runaway slave, who while being chased swam across a creek and was out of the owner's sight. The owner said "...must have gone off on an underground railroad." That man was Tice Davids, a Kentucky slave who decided to live in freedom in 1831. The primary importance of the Underground Railroad was the on going fight to abolish slavery, the start of the civil war, and it was being one of our nation's first major anti-slavery movements.

The history of the railroad is quite varied according to whom you are talking. Slavery in America thrived and continued to grow because there was a scarcity of labor. Cultivation of crops on plantations could be supervised while slaves used simple routines to harvest them, the low price at which slaves could be bought, and earning profits as a bonus for not having to pay hired work.

Slaves turned to freedom for more than one reason. Some were obsessed with being free and living a life where they were not told how to live. Others ran due to fear of being separted or sold from friends and family. Then there were some who were treated so cruely, that it forced them to run just to stay alive. Since coming to America as slaves even back as far back as when the first colonies began, slaves wanted to escape. They wanted to get away from the situation they were forced into. Those who were free were the "whites" who were somewhat separated in values. The North, was a more industrialized area where jobs were filled by newly imported immigrants, making them less dependent on slave labor. The South, however had rich fertile land mostly used for farming. Huge plantations were cleared and needed to be worked. The people of the area tended to be more genteal, and seemed not quite adjusted to hard work, but more of giving orders. The idea of telling people how to do their work just seemed to fit all too well into this scenario.

The railroad didn't have a certain location. Slaves had been running since the 1500's on their own. When the idea caught on among

brave slaves, was when it started. Slave owners in the South certainly weren't happy about the loss of "property". It seemed like too much money was being lost.This caused the South to pass the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. This titled slaves as property of their owners and gave permission to the owners to retrieve runaways any where in the states, even those states that were free. The North was angry about the treatment of the slaves and was not happy about owners being allowed to come into their states to take the slaves back. Finally, the North decided to do something about it. To return the fire thrown at them by the South, they would take away something that the North thought was morally wrong,and the South's riches. They would help the slaves escape to freedom. The slaves were now angry, scared, and confused. Hearing of this Underground Railroad, they slowly began to run, more and more.

By 1807 a law was passed to make it illegal to import anymore slaves. Agricultural improvements came along, and with the limited number of slaves left in the states, the value of the slaves went up very quickly. Abolition Societies began to form, and along with religious groups became active in helpin gslaves to freedom.

The "Railroad" beggan to take shape. A shape that is to this day very hard to describe. Traks were laid to aide the slaves to freedom. People talked in secrecy to make safe paths for the slaves to run on. These were the tracks. Letters were sent that had terminology or code for the balcks. A lot of the terms come from things found along railroads. This is because real railroads at this time were the newest thing and happened to be the topic of choice for conversation. This made it all the easier for the helpers of the railroad to communicate going unoticed.Along the tracks, there were depots, safe houses to stay. These were houses of free whites or blacks where they could hide when they weren't running. The people who owned the houses were often called conductors. The conductors often left a number of signs for the slaves to follow so they didn't go to houses that belonged to allies of the slave owners. A quilt on the clothes line depicting a house with smoke coming out of the chimney was a sign of a safe station. A white ring of bricks around the the top of a house's chimney was another sign of a good hiding spot. Shoppes that were safe often had a silohette of a fleeing

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