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The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was the most dramatic protest action against slavery in American history. The operation of helping slaves escape using underground networks began in the 1500s. Which was later helped by the abolitionist activity of the 1800s. The route of the underground rail road was a constructed network of escape routes that originated in the South, their connections run all throughout the North, and eventually ended in Canada. Escape routes were not just restricted to the North, but also extended into western territories, Mexico, and the Caribbean. From 1830\'s to 1865, the Underground Railroad reached its peak as abolitionists and sympathizers who condemned human bondage aided large numbers of bondsmen to freedom. They not only called for slavery destruction, but also acted to assist its victims.
The most intriguing feature of the Underground Railroad was its lack of formal organization. Its existence often relied on concerted efforts of helpful individuals of various ethnics and religions groups who helped slaves escape from slavery. Usually agents hid or destroyed their personal journals to protect themselves and the runaways. Only recently researchers have discovered the work created by courageous agents such as David Ruggles, Calvin Fairbank, Josiah Henson, and Erastus Hussey. The identity of others that also contributed to this effort will never be fully recognized. Though scholars estimate that Underground Railroad conductors assisted thousands of refugees, the total number of runaways whom they aided to freedom will never be known simply because of the movement\'s secrecy. Conductors usually did not attempt to record these figures, and those who did only calculated the number of runaways whom they personally helped. Moreover, these estimations should consider that some runaways never took part in the underground system and therefore used other creative methods to attain liberty. The shortage of evidence indicates that scholars probably will never fully learn the real significance of the Underground Railroad. Indeed, the few journals that have survived over the years suggest that the true heroes of the underground were not the abolitionists or sympathizers, but those runaways abolitionist who were willing to risk their lives to gain freedom.
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Runaways and the Abolition Movement:
Slave resistance occurred wherever bondage existed. The brutality of involuntary servitude and the yearning for freedom inspired most bondsmen to rebel against their conditions. Bondsmen consistently used flight as a form of resistance. Escapes occurred as early as the 1500s when African captives arrived in the Spanish colonies. In Spanish North America, some bondsmen escaped and took refuge with Native American groups who welcomed the runaways as members of their communities. Others absconded into unclaimed territories and secluded areas and formed maroon or free societies there. Later, maroon settlements were primarily found in the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina and Virginia, the bayous of Louisiana, and the mountainous regions of Kentucky and Tennessee. These communities usually offered shelter to thousands of fellow refugees. In the early 1700s, hundreds of enslaved Africans and Native Americans sought refuge in Spanish Florida which accorded them liberty. This act indeed posed a threat to White settlers in nearby British, French, Danish, and Dutch territories. African runaways often lived and intermarried with Native American groups such as the Creeks and Muscogee who provided them protection. Eventually this group of peoples became known as the "Seminoles" (a Native American word meaning runaway). Hundreds of African refugees from the Carolinas and Georgia customarily sought asylum with the Seminoles and freed African communities such as the Garcia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (Fort Mose) and the Negro Fort (Fort Gadsden). According to historian John Blassingame, "by 1836 there were more than 1,200 maroons living in Seminole towns" (Buckmaster 1992: 18; Thompson 1987: 284-85; Gara 1961: 28-29; Preston 1933: 150; Deagan 1991: 5; Blassingame 1979: 211).
In the British North America and later the United States, antislavery sentiment flourished during the revolutionary period, but faded slightly by the beginning of the early 19th century. The call to end human bondage compelled freed African Americans and Quakers to form abolition societies such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the New England Anti-Slavery Society in the North. Moreover, churches such as African Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Presbyterian, and Methodist as well as Black fraternal organizations and social clubs played key roles in
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Slavery in the United States, Slavery, Abolitionism in the United States, African slave trade, Racism, Underground Railroad, Abolitionism, American Colonization Society, David Walker, Atlantic slave trade, American Anti-Slavery Society, Christian views on slavery
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