Exploring the Underground Railroad

Sylvia Titus 2nd pd. 11/04/13


Slavery, also known as the peculiar institution, was revitalized by the invention of the cotton gin, and was going strong during the first half of the 19th century. The term black belt was used to characterize the region stretching from S. Carolina to East Texas, dependent on plantation agriculture with a majority black population. A derogatory term used to characterize slaves was darkies. Conditions on large plantations were especially harsh, and white overseers supervised black slave drivers who punished their subordinates through whippings or floggings when they didn't work hard enough, didn't follow orders, or attempted to resist/flee. Many slaves rebelled through internal resistance(working slowly, pretending not to understand instructions, sabotaging resources), slave revolts(such as those led by Nat Turner, and supposedly planned by Denmark Vesey), and several escaped by following the Underground Railroad.

How to Escape from Slavery

1. Wait until it is dark and try to slip away unnoticed from the plantation.

2. In order to be free, you need to run North. You can find North by following the North Star, which is located at the end of the Little Dipper. Moss grows on the North side of tree trunks, and you can use it as a guide as well.

3. Travel at night because it will be harder to be spotted by slave catchers, and also watch out for traps and snares. Travel by rivers and streams because dogs can't track your scent over water.

4. Canada(a.k.a Heaven or The Promised Land) is your ideal final destination, and those who will help you along the way are the abolitionists. There is a network of safe houses and families who will shelter, clothe, and guide you along your journey.

5. A specific route that you can take is as follows:

  • From Montgomery, Alabama travel NW toward the Mississippi River
  • Travel along the Mississippi River until you reach the Ohio River
  • Cross the Ohio River and travel to Cincinnati
  • From Cincinnati continue traveling North toward Lake Erie
  • Cross over Lake Erie into Canada on a ferry or small boat; there will be abolitionists willing to give you a ride across