The Underground Railroad

by Joseph An

Life of a Plantation Slave

Life as a plantation slave in the mid 1800s was harsh. Southern slave owners stressed the idea of peculiar institution, which is another term for slavery but emphasizes the good and benefits of slave ownership. Stretching from Mississippi to North Carolina, the black belt region of southern U.S consisted of over a million slaves by the 1830s. Also referred to as "darkies", African slaves were only given two meals a day with poor sanitary conditions by their overseers. Overseers were put in charge of multiple groups of slaves and tended to treat slaves with disrespect. Slaves could be punished for not working fast enough, disobeying, attempting to run away, etc. Common punishments slaves received were floggings, which mainly involved whipping.

Tips for Escape

-Always try to walk through rivers or streams so dogs cannot track your scent

-If you lose your sense of direction, simply travel in the direction which moss is pointing, which is north

-Look into the sky and follow the bright North Star

-When approaching a border, try to seek help from fellow abolitionists and stationmasters.

Many people who helped slaves escaped were stationmasters who hid slaves, conductors who transported slaves, and stockholders, who provided them with food and clothing. A well known stationmaster who has helped thousands of slaves is Thomas Garrett. He resided on the border of Delaware and spent his entire budget just to save slaves.