Freedom for Slaves

By: Christina Burdette

How to Escape the Black Belt

  • stow away on boats, trains, or wagons.
  • Run during the night and sleep during the day
  • Disguise yourself. For example: if in large group, pretend to be a funeral procession. Dress up as white people. Henry Brown even shipped himself in a box from Virginia to Philadelphia.
  • Better chance of escaping if in Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia.
  • Run through rivers to so the search dogs can't track your scent
  • Follow the North Star. It is at the tip of the Little Dipper.
  • Moss tends to grow on the north side of trees.
  • Birds fly North after the Winter.

WARNING

If caught, you will be brought back to the peculiar institution and punishments will be flogging by your overseer. After the revolts from Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey, owners have become much more strict towards darkies.


Underground Railroad is KEY

The Underground Railroad is a group of people that will help you escape. Harriet Tubman, Levi Coffin, and William Still are some of the famous Conductors. Stationmasters will give you places to hide along the way. Stockholders will give runaway slaves money, food, and clothes to survive.

They will guide you to Canada since the fugitive slave act has made it difficult to run away to the North. Canada does not allow slave hunters into their country.


Escape Route from Louisville, Kentucky

If you are a slave escaping from Louisville, Kentucky, you will start traveling North towards the Ohio River. The Underground Railroad will be there waiting for you at the River. When safe, they will row you across and guide you to Cleveland, Ohio. Once in Cleveland, another member of the Underground Railroad will be there with a tugboat, ready to row you across Lake Erie and into the freedom of Canada.

Lyrics to "Follow the Drinking Gourd" a slave song that was a code for escaping

Follow the drinking gourd!

Follow the drinking gourd.

For the old man is a–waiting for to carry you to freedom

If you follow the drinking gourd.


When the sun comes back and the first quail calls,

Follow the drinking gourd.

For the old man is a–waiting for to carry you to freedom

If you follow the drinking gourd.


The riverbank makes a very good road,

The dead trees will show you the way.

Left foot, peg foot, traveling on,

Follow the drinking gourd.


The river ends between two hills,

Follow the drinking gourd.

There's another river on the other side,

Follow the drinking gourd.


When the great big river meets the little river,

Follow the drinking gourd.

For the old man is a–waiting for to carry you to freedom

If you follow the drinking gourd.