1. Leave your cabin when the main house' lights go out
  2. be very careful of the overseer, so you won't get a flogging (punishing)
  3. and then run as fast as you can to the north
  4. you got be careful for traps in the forest at night
  5. be especially careful when you reach the Black Belt, the regions of Mississippi and Alabama


  • If you see a candle outside a window, it means it is safe to cross the Ohio River; the house belonged to John Rankins.
  • say " a friend of a friend", for that is a signal of your escaping
  • being in a free state does not result in safety, because you are still a fugitive
  • avoid the phrase, peculiar institution or distinctive institution,for these also mean slavery
  • also avoid the word, "darkies", because it is a word of insult towards slaves


  • You will travel until you reach Cleveland, Ohio
  • and then cross Lake Erie into Canada

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How do you know which way is north?

  • the North Star will lead you at night
  • in the morning, the direction where the birds fly indicates which direction is north
  • look for moss growing on trees, it will serve as a compass when the North Star is unable to be seen

How do you avoid catchers and dogs?

- travel through streams, so the murky water can mask your scent

Final Destination

Your goal is to cross the Ohio River, the boundary between free states and slave states and ultimately reach Canada.

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People that assisted runaway slaves

Underground Railroad

People who were a part of the Underground Railroad took a great risk to help.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 will fine citizens or put a person in jail for helping a slave.

Stationmasters: hid runaway slaves in their homes, or stations
Conductors: guided or transported slaves to the next station

Stockholders: donated money, food, and clothes to fugitive slaves

People like Denmark Resey and Nat Turner helped slaves escape. Resey lead many slave revolts, and also Turner has led many slave revolts in Virginia.

Map of Underground Railroad

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Runaway Slaves

Songs of Escape

Now well known songs like "Swing Low, Swing Chariot" were actually sung by slaves as secret coded message for escape.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot - With Lyrics
The song called, "Follow the Drinking Gould" referred to the Big Dipper to help slaves escape.

Follow the Drinking Gourd

This documentary shows the Underground Railroad system

The Underground Railroad (Full Documentary)

A Letter

This letter was written was written by John Boston to his wife, Elizabeth.

“My Dear Wife it is with grate joy I take this time to let you know Whare I am
i am now in Safety in the 14th Regiment of Brooklyn . . . this Day i can Adress you thank god as a free man I had a little truble in giting away But as the lord led the Children of Isrel to the land of Canon So he led me to a land Whare fredom Will rain in spite Of earth and hell Dear you must make your Self content i am free from al the Slavers Lash . . . I am With a very nice man and have All that hart Can Wish But My Dear I Cant express my grate desire that i Have to See you i trust the time Will Come When We Shal meet again And if We dont met on earth We Will Meet in heven Whare Jesas ranes . . .”

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