Important Leaders of the Underground Railroad Throughout history, racial inequity has been an issue. In the 19th century, the rights of African Americans were the most prominent racial debate. Many U.S. citizens who were against slavery made their opinion heard by working on the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was not an actual railroad, it was a system of anti-slavery activists that helped slaves escape to freedom (Altman). The people who worked on the Underground Railroad, commonly known as conductors, “faced considerable danger, as "slave stealing" was a serious crime, punishable by fines, branding, and/or imprisonment” (Altman).
Many tried to destroy them, but slaves stayed strong and found ways to escape their injustices. The first Africans to reach America landed in Jamestown, the first English settlement in North America. For 250 years, many Africans and African-Americans found ways to resist slavery, ranging from hindrances to violent outbreaks. Resistance to slavery came in many forms. On Southern plantations, some slaves executed small passive acts of resistance, while others ran away.
In their fight against the inhumanity of slavery, the most significant device the abolitionists used were Anti- slavery writings. Through the use of newspapers, pamphlets, poetry, and published sermons, they were able to spread their messages of freedom for all. Examples of famous abolitionist text include, David Walker's Appeal, Frederick Douglass' The North Star and The Liberator, by William Lloyd Garrison. Then you have the slave narratives, which were deemed as personal accounts of what it was like to live in slavery. These slave narratives gave the most powerful accounts that contradicted the flattery statements and claims given by slave owners in concern to slavery.
The Underground Railroad was a secret network of safe houses that organized by people who helped runaway men, women and children slaves. From the years 1780 until the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 enslaved individuals would run away in hopes to receive help from the free and reach their way up into the northern part of the United States. Many historians have approached this topic in several perspectives. Daniel O. Sayers “The Underground Railroad Reconsidered” provides an overview of the Underground Railroad as a long-term of African-American defiance and marronage. It analyses the political economic impacts across the slave owning sectors, the slave’s culture and the influence of religion on the Underground Railroad.
The abolitionist John Brown had a very important role in the freedom of slaves and the beginning of the Civil War. One of his many famous quotes, from David S. Reynold's John Brown: Abolitionist, stated his belief: "Whoso stoppeth his ear at the cry of the poor, he shall cry himself, but shall not be heard." (page 50) Also, our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, was one of the main reasons slavery was abolished. The history of slavery includes the treatment and conditions of slaves, the purpose of slavery, and the outcome of slavery. The treatment of slaves was based on which owner possessed them.
Slavery in America, particularly in the Southern region, was heavily depended upon due to the high demand for labor. Historically, slaves were primarily blacks but race did not become an issue until 1650, when Virginia and Maryland claimed that infidel (non Christian) slaves could be enslaved for life. Following this claim, non-whites became a target for slavery. In 1739, a group of rebellious slaves paraded towards Georgia and Florida, and killed several whites at Stono, South Carolina. After these white killings, slave codes were implemented to end rebellion and restrict mobility.
Covey was the turning-point in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood” (Douglass 43). The battle between Mr. Covey and Douglass shows the primitive and subjective nature of the laws in slave-holding communities. Instead of there being law and regulation as there is in the rest of the United States, this battle proves that violence is rampant in the plantations.
These African slaves would be needed in different plantations in the USA. With about 7 million slaves from Africa during the 18th century alone, the continent was robbed of its strong, able and potential workforce. But that was not all. With slaves being regarded as properties, slave owners had the “right ” to treat their slaves accordingly. Killing or lynching of unwanted slaves, mistreatment, torture, segregation, cultural uprooting, disorientation and dislocation were some of the “natural” faith of the slaves.
Slavery is equally a mental and a physical prison. Frederick Douglass realized this follow-ing his time as both a slave and a fugitive slave. Douglass was born into slavery because of his mother’s status as a slave. He had little to go off regarding his age and lineage. In the excerpt of the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave,” Douglass discusses the horrors of being enslaved and a fugitive slave.
The slave narratives told the slave’s stories. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was one cause of the civil war since it showed what slavery was like. The Cotton Kingdom by Edward Atkinson also showed how slavery was, emphasizing how the cotton plantations expanded. John Pierpont’s book of poetry, “Airs of Palestine” was also important in showing the conditions of slavery. Slave narratives were a way for former and fugitive slaves to show everyone how slavery was.
Many abolitionists and abolitionist groups started to form and peak in popularity. Due to that, slaves began revolting against their slaves owners. During the 1900s, people circled around very important buildings in many movements and strikes. Many important movements were also advertised through these songs, and then, because of the songs, gradually, people started joining the movements. For example, the song “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel” encouraged slaves to partake in the Underground Railroad.
The purpose of the Underground Railroad was to free slaves from the ownership of slave owners, and did just that. Over 100,000 thousand slaves were freed from slave owners, and they managed to live their own lives. While slaves escaping did bring about anti-black sentiment from the Southern States most clearly seen in the Fugitive Slave Act, it brought support for abolition because white people could see that all the slaves were just as human as the rest of them. This may not have changed their beliefs of inferiority, but it did change their beliefs that African Americans deserved such cruel treatment. After the awareness of the slaves’ capabilities and the living in communities with slaves, white people in the North that still supported slavery changed their stance after seeing first hand that black people, not just the few free blacks, were similar to everyone else.
Being a leader was difficult if you were a slave. Especially if you had a harsh master, that would punish you for every little thing you did wrong. But there was still some who persisted though these harsh conditions. Those leaders helped inspire other slaves and grow the population of slave leaders in the south. Wall3 Some of the reasons slavery is absolutely hated are as follows, it was harsh, unjust, and inhumane.
African Americans used various methods to fight for their freedom during the Civil War such as passing information to the Union Army and serving in the Armed forces. These actions affected them and the United States by bringing home a win for the Union, making slaves free people. To begin, the slaves dedicated their lives to save the future. A former slave and author of the famous newspaper, The North Star, displays how loyal they were. Fredrick Douglas made many editorials about abolition.
The oral tradition has served as a fundamental vehicle for “gettin’ ovuh.” That tradition preserves the African American heritage and reflects the collective spirit of the race through song, story, folk sayings, and rich verbal interplay among everyday people. Lessons and precepts about life and survivals are handed down from generation to generation. We rely on word of mouth for its rituals of cultural preservation. –Geneva Smitherman African-American folklore is perhaps the basis for many African-American literary works. In a country where as late as the 1860’s there were laws prohibiting the teaching of slaves, it was essential for the oral tradition to carry the values the group considered significant.