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Bradford’s Secrets: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad

There are a lot of stories from the time of slavery in the US. A lot of people gave their lives during that struggle and the war that came after it. However, it should be known that there weren’t only black slaves and lives lost during that time; soldiers who fought in the war, as well as white slaves, gave their lives too.

The Underground Railroad had been an instrumental tool for the fight for freedom. Not only did Harriet Tubman benefit from it; many others were also saved by it.

Harriet Tubman is Araminta Ross

When Harriet was born, she was named Araminta Ross. She used the name Harriet as she escaped a Maryland plantation with her brothers in 1849. She also took the surname ‘Tubman’ when she got married. An independent woman, Tubman made her way to Pennsylvania, where she reportedly received a vision of God. She then organized the Underground Railroad and began to help slaves escape to Canada.

The Underground Railroad begins

The movement actually was mentioned already in 1831, when Tice Davids, a slave from Kentucky, managed to move to Ohio. His owner then placed the blame on an ‘underground railroad’. About 8 years later, in 1839, a newspaper from Washington reported that Jim, a slave, confessed under torture that he planned to follow an ‘underground railroad’ to the North following a path to Boston.

The Underground Network

The Underground Railroad worked by helping slaves escape from border states. Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky are good examples. On the side of the network were people labeled ‘conductors’; people who hid slaves in places like churches and private homes. On the other hand, especially in the south, were people who enforced the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793—justifying capturing slaves who escaped from their owners, abusive or otherwise.

Movement of the People

In truth, the Underground Railroad was run by everyday people—some business owners and even farmers were key figures here. Levi Coffin, a Quaker and North Carolina native, is credited as one of the pioneers of the Railroad. He was 15 when he started helping. He found out slaves’ hiding places and brought them to where they can move along. Eventually, word got out and slaves sought Coffin wherever he lived.

The Final Toot

The Railroad stopped in 1863, well into the Civil War. What happened really was that they supported the Union’s war against the Confederacy; it only felt natural—after all, they were helping slaves escape their masters, and the Confederacy represented these masters. Naturally, people like Harriet Tubman became important figures in the struggle for unification and the end of slavery.

The colorful struggle of the African-American people is worth learning about. Bradford is a good enough place to start learning about the Underground Railroad and the people who are involved in it.

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Image source: civilwar.gratzpa.org

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