The Route to Freedom

Payton Cupstid 4th

There are 4 main ways to gain a slave freedom:


1) Self Purchase

2) Running Away**

3) Abolitionist Group/Individual granting a slave's freedom through purchase

4) Freedom upon the owners death


**running away is most commonly used and is highly recommended for success

How To Escape the "Peculiar Institution": Tips and Strategies


1) Run at night so that you can't be seen

2) Run in the North direction (follow the north star or the direction in which the birds are migrating)

3) Hide during day light so you won't get caught

4) Dispose of your clothing and bathe in a pond or river to hide your scent (so that catchers and their dogs will not be able to find you)

5) It is best to not make contact with any civilians. There are many overseers whom are known for flogging fugitives, so beware! They can still punish you whether you are located in a slave state or free state.

6) Don't travel with many other "darkies", for this could make it easier for you to be caught. Always travel alone or in small numbers.


  • If you come into contact with Denmark Vesey or Nat Turner, you are in good hands! Both are former slaves willing to help free all others captive, including YOU


Route: Charleston to Canada


When escaping from Charleston, South Carolina:

  1. Head north
  2. Keep traveling north until you are passed the Black Belt
  3. Once you are passed the Black Belt, begin to travel in the northwest direction towards Ohio
  4. Even though once you reach Ohio you may be safe, continue to travel north until you reach lake Erie
  5. Once you have arrived at Lake Erie, cross the water north to reach Canada. Here you will be completely safe and free of danger!


  • The Underground Railroad consists of many different escape routes for fugitives, so find one! Become connected with other people involved in the system and figure out where safe-houses are located, what lines are best to follow, where stations can be found and most importantly, who the conductors are.

The "Peculiar Institution"

Digital Story: Secrets and Codes of the Underground Railroad
Follow The Drinking Gourd | Slave Escape Song by Peg Leg Joe