How to Escape using the Underground Railroad
2. Leave Lexington, Kentucky and head north to Ohio (you must cross the Ohio River)
3. After crossing the Ohio River, look for a brick house on a hill in Ripley Ohio, knock on the door and when the man answers say "I am a friend of a friend"
*a man named John Rankin will open the door, give you food, and let you stay overnight for safety
4. From there, make your way to Cleveland, Ohio where you will cross Lake Erie into Canada
*look around for a white man to escort you the rest of the way to Cleveland and pose as his servant
5. stay the night with a negro family in Cleveland and the next day, look for the house of a white man (a large white house with two white chimneys) who will let you travel by boat across Lake Erie into Canada
6. You will soon reach Toronto which is located in the South portion of Canada just above Lake Erie
**Throughout your journey, you will be utilizing the Underground Railroad, which is not a real railroad but a network of communication and people who will help you on your journey such as John Rankin and other whites that will aid you on your journey to Canada
How you know you're heading North...
- follow the North Star (the star located at the tip of the Little Dipper)
- If it's foggy or cloudy and you can't see the North Star, use the moss on the trees as your compass (moss grows on the northern side of the tree)
- look for flocks of birds flying north and follow them
Potential Dangers and How to Stay Safe
- Avoid your overseers (supporters of the Peculiar Institution which is another term for slavery in the South); if they catch you trying to escape then you are likely to be punished by flogging after you return to your plantation in the Black Belt Region in the South where you will work solely to economically benefit the region
- hide during the day and run during the night
- Some white men in the city will be looking for "darkies" in order to send slaves back to their original masters, so stay hidden and don't expose yourself to people you don't know.
- There will be dogs that can detect your scent and track you down, so whenever you can, wash off in a stream or river to take your scent off
Your Destination: Toronto, Canada
- slavery abolished in 1833
- aim for reaching Toronto, Canada (a city in the southern portion of Canada just above Lake Erie)
- originally in the 17th century there were no large-scale plantations in Canada so there hasn't been a history of a dire need for slavery
- most slave owners are residing along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California so slavery is not as prominent in the area you will be traveling to
Which way is North?
Follow the North Star up north to Canada
When you can't see the North Star, use tree moss as your compass given that it typically grows on the north side of the tree
Follow the Birds
Flocks of birds will be flying north so follow them on your journey to Canada
Your Specific Path
1. Start in Lexington, Kentucky
2. Head to Ripley, Ohio where you will find John Rankin's house
3. From Ripley, head to Cleveland Ohio where you will find a boat to travel over Lake Erie
4. Sail across Lake Erie towards Canada
5. Your goal is to reach Toronto, Canada so that you can become a free black
An African-American abolitionist who helped lead the Underground Railroad.
Originally enslaved in South Carolina, Denmark Vesey organized a slave rebellion in 1822. However, he was caught and executed before the plan could be put in place.
He led a slave rebellion in Virginia where his followers killed somewhere between 55-65 white people only for whites to respond by killing 200 blacks. Turner was later convicted to death and hanged.
John Rankin's house
Located in Ripley, Ohio, John will give you shelter for the night and feed you along with giving you connections in the Underground Railroad to further your journey.
Black Belt Region
The region in the U.S. where there is a high rate of cotton plantations that millions of black slaves are known to work at.
Another way to describe slavery in the South, the Peculiar Institution was in place to economically benefit the South.
John Rankin's house
Black Belt Region
Underground Railroad Home
In William Still's book, "The Underground Railroad," he wrote about Harriet Tubman:
Her success was wonderful. Time and again she made successful visits to Maryland on the Underground Rail Road, and would be absent for weeks at a time, running daily risks while making preparations for herself and her passengers. Great fears were entertained for her safety, but she seemed wholly devoid of personal fear. The idea of being captured by slave-hunters or slave-holders, seemed never to enter her mind. She was apparently proof against all adversaries. While she thus maintained utter personal indifference, she was much more watchful with regard to those she was piloting. Half of her time, she had the appearance of one asleep, and would actually sit down by the road-side and go fast asleep* when on her errands of mercy through the South, yet, she would not suffer one of her party to whimper once, about "giving out and going back," however wearied they might be by the hard travel day and night. She had a very short and pointed rule or law of her own, which implied death to any who talked of giving out and going back. Thus, in an emergency she would give all to understand that "times were very critical and therefore no foolishness would be indulged in on the road." That several who were rather weak-kneed and faint-hearted were greatly invigorated by Harriet's blunt and positive manner and threat of extreme measures, there could be no doubt.
After having once enlisted, "They had to go through ordie." Of course Harriet was supreme, and her followers generally had full faith in her, and would back up any word she might utter. So when she said to them that "a live runaway could do great harm by going back, but that a dead one could tell no secrets," she was sure to have obedience. Therefore, none had to die as traitors on the "middle passage." It is obvious enough, however, that her success in going into Maryland as she did, was attributable to her adventurous spirit and utter disregard of consequences. Her like it is probable was never known before or since.