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 amoung
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