Slavery: the Peculiar Institution

Maggie Hohfeler

How to escape the "Peculiar Institution" through the Underground Railroad

1. Wait till dark, and run during the night and hide during the day so that you don't get caught.

2. Find the North Star and follow it. It will lead you North. During the day, follow the birds flying North, they will also help direct you.

3. Make sure to cover your scent and your trail so that you don't get caught. We don't want you to get flogged by your overseer because you ran away.

4. Get to the Ohio River, just into Kentucky, and there will be people waiting to help you.

5. When arriving at the station's masters house, say that you are "a friend with friends."

6. Don't just make it to the North. Make it all the way to Canada.

7. Follow his map to other station masters house, and cross the Great Lakes into Canada. You have reached freedom from the "Peculiar Institution" through the Underground Railroad.


This will not be an easy journey, but use your fellow "darkies" Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey as a source of inspiration. Even though Denmark Vesey did not succeed, she can be an inspiration to slaves everywhere.


Your route will be as followed:

Nashville, Tennessee to Louisville, Kentucky. You have made it out of the "Black Belt." Then make it to Cincinnati, Ohio to Columbus, Ohio, then to Cleveland Ohio and finally across Lake Erie and into Canada.

William Still's Diary

Old Jane Davis Fled to Escape the Auction-Block, 1857
Jane did not know how old she was. She was probably sixty or seventy. She fled to keep from being sold. She had been "whipt right smart," poorly fed, and poorly clothed, by a certain Roger McZant, of the New Market District, Eastern Shore of Maryland. His wife was a "bad woman too." Just before escaping, Jane got a whisper that her "master" was about to sell her; on asking him if the rumor was true, he was silent. He had been asking "one hundred dollars" for her.

Remembering that four of her children had been snatched away from her and sold South, and she herself was threatened with the same fate, she was willing to suffer hunger, sleep in the woods for nights and days, wandering towards Canada, rather than trust herself any longer under the protection of her "kind" owner. Before reaching a place of repose she was three weeks in the woods, almost wholly without nourishment.

Jane, doubtless, represented thousands of old slave mothers, who, after having been worn out under the yoke, were frequently either offered for sale for a trifle, turned off to die, or compelled to eke out their existence on the most stinted allowance.