Escape From Bondage

Brady Knippa - 4th period

The Escape

Often times to escape, slaves were simply told to go on foot at night, following the North Star. After leaving the head house at night, the slave would go as far north as possible using the North Star and help from abolitionists and the Underground Railroad if possible. Once they arrived in a northern free state, they would hide with free black families until the next step could begin. From there, a boat or train was often taken into places such as Canada to escape fugitive slave laws and slavery altogether.

In conventional circumstances, "Darkies," or African Americans, would follow the North Star, using it to guide them towards northern free states. On cloudy nights when the star couldn't be seen, they would look for moss on the side of trees, because it typically grows facing north. During the day, they would observe birds flying north for the winter.

To keep dogs from finding them, they would run through rivers or roll in mud to was away their scent and somewhat camouflage themselves. Along the route, they sometimes came in contact with abolitionists who would house them and assist them along their journey, or free black families who would do likewise.


Treatment of slaves, even though they held high value, was terrible. They lived in small shacks, or slave quarters, with no heat in the winter, were fed rarely twice a day, and endured floggings, or beatings, admonished by their Overseer with the much dreaded black belt. These beatings were very common in slave societies, and were meant to punish and/or motivate the slaves to continue their back-breaking labor.


With these extremely harsh conditions, slave revolts were not uncommon throughout the period of the Peculiar Institution as a whole. Denmark Vesey, a slave from South Carolina who purchased his freedom, is known for planning a rebellion in 1822. Word of the uprising spread before it even occurred, and the leaders were seized, shutting down the whole operation prematurely. Nat Turner, however, however, was much more successful. Turner gathered gathered supporters in Virginia in 1831, and killed 60 white, ultimately resulting in over 200 black executions, including his own.

The Route

New Orleans, Louisiana --->

Nashville, Tennessee --->

Chicago, Illinois --->

Saint Paul, Minnesota --->


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The History of Slavery In America (FULL)
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