|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||American Civil War Slavery American history|
The underground railroad was a system by the white and African American who offered shelter and helped slaves who have escaped from the south. It developed from a coming together of numerous undercover struggles. It operated in the late eighteenth century onwards to the civil war, and its efforts challenged the Confederacy. Their activities took place in the areas bordering slave states with Ohio river being the central point of much of the activity. The story of Underground Railroad is more than that of aiding slaves to escape bondage and helping the already escaped slaves with a path and shelter to move towards liberty.
The Underground Railroad protected 40000 to 100000 slaves who had the nerve to face the dangerous journey to liberty (Freedom Centre). Thousands of women and men from the entire country white and black together courageously risked the Fugitive Slave Acts to uphold the principle of the contentious phrase that all men are created equally which was decreed by the Declaration of Independence (Rensalier, 25). The Fugitive Slave Acts became passed in early 1793 that permitted slave catchers to travel north and force fugitives back into slavery. The laws by 1830 and 1840 were tightened and expand due to the underground railroad activities thereby the activities of sheltering or aiding slave runaways became a federal felony making all the members of the underground railroad are subject to six months imprisonment and a thousand dollar fine. The events in those times depicted community conflict. They also involved the aspect of moral decision making, the law-abiding being those who refused to aid the slaves and the brave who took a position to aid the fugitives whatsoever the risk. Some communities were deemed as safe while others were unsafe. Churches at this time split over this issue, and the ministers tried to justify the return of the slaves claiming that they were under the laws of the land and not the laws of God. The churches which believed in the abolishment of slavery secretly helped to redeem the escaped slaves.
The Underground Railroad was involved in the politics of the abolitionist's movement. The Quakers in the eighteenth century the affiliates of the 'Religious Society of Friends. Did the first organized abolitionists believe that slavery violated Christian values and morals (Rensalier, 25)? The philosophies of the abolitionists then spread to the West into the territories by now named Ohio and Indiana. In 1786, George Washington complained that the abolitionists had tried to liberate one of his slaves. Van Rensalier and Huntoon were abolitionists who ran a safe house for the underground railroad movement before and during the civil war. Huntoon was white while Rensalier was black and they both held values of freedom and purity of the human essence (Rensalier, 25). The Underground Railroad is deemed to be a symbolic name for various secret escape routes from the south through the north to Canada and at times west to California and the Mexican border (Freedom Center). The Underground Railroad led to the emergence of 'steam driven' railroads.
The system used terms such as those used in the rail where the shelters and businesses premises were places where runaways would eat and rest thus named 'stations' or 'depots.' They were run by 'stationmasters,' and those who donated things or money were termed as 'stockholders,' and the 'conductor' had the role of moving the escaped slaves from one station to another. The escaped slaves would move at night where they would travel for ten and twenty miles to the next station where they would feed and rest hiding in sheds or just out of plain sight. Apart from traveling by foot they would move by boat or train but needed to be well dressed so as not to be spotted. Some agents and conductors were ordinary people and prominent citizens both white and black who believed greatly in slavery abolition (28). They worked together to risking death and prison to offer secret hiding shelters and safe transport to other regions (Rensalier, 4). Family members of Huntoon were highly involved as agents and conductors in the underground railroad (Rensalier, 27). According to Dolores Rensalier, her father's cellars formed a connection for an underground railway which assisted for the slaves' movements (Alaya, 16). The most well-known conductor for the movement was Harriet Tubman. She had been born as a slave named Araminta and took the name Harriet in 1849 when she escaped a plantation in Maryland with her two brothers (Freedom center). They went back later, but she left later on for Pennsylvania. She appeared at the plantation on several junctures to liberate family members and others. She then became a member of the underground railroad and stated to guide other runaways to Maryland.
The Underground Railroad halted its operations at 1863 during the civil war. They had decided to move their work and become part of the union whose efforts were against the Confederacy. Harriet Tubman played an essential role by leading intelligence procedures and fulfilling command responsibilities in the union army to liberate the unbound slaves. In recent decades the site of the underground railway had needed to be preserved adequately and through efforts of various descendants and scholars of the Underground Railroad. They were able to come up with some memorial. For instance, Dolores efforts led a council in the city of Paterson to pass a resolution that ratified six new historical sites in the city, five being architectural landmarks that had been languishing without approval since 1992 and the other being Huntoon-Van Rensalier station of the underground railroad (Alaya, 15).
Alaya, Flavia. Land Marking a Station to the Underground Railroad.
Freedom Centre. Enabling Freedom: History. National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre.
Rensalier, Dolores. Bridge Street to Freedom: A Patterson, New Jersey Station of the Underground Railroad.
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