Title: Why The Underground Railroad Existed In Maryland

Word Count:
683

Summary:
Many Africans resisted and ran away from their masters from the earliest days of colonial settlement. The Africans were forcibly brought to the colonies to labor as slaves. Slave labor was a foundation of American society and culture.

Slavery was gradually outlawed in the years following the American Revolution in the northern states. However, in the southern states, where agricultural interests dominated the economy, slavery continued and expanded.

The enslaved people …

Keywords:

Article Body:
Many Africans resisted and ran away from their masters from the earliest days of colonial settlement. The Africans were forcibly brought to the colonies to labor as slaves. Slave labor was a foundation of American society and culture.

Slavery was gradually outlawed in the years following the American Revolution in the northern states. However, in the southern states, where agricultural interests dominated the economy, slavery continued and expanded.

The enslaved people resisted their bondage and committed acts of defiance, refused to work, sabotaged, poisoned, committed arsons and violence against those who had them in bondage. Some attempted to run from their bondage. It was illegal for slaves to run from their masters and those who did became known as fugitives from the law.

By the late 1700s, communities, individuals, and small groups of like-minded people committed themselves to help end slavery. The name ?Underground Railroad? first appeared in the early 1830s with the arrival of rail transportation. However, the secret networks to freedom had long been in operation.

Those who participated in the illegal secret networks to freedom were called agents, conductors, engineers, and stationmasters. These terms mirrored positions on actual railroads. These people guided freedom seekers, hid them on their property, made arrangements for their next safe place to stay, purchased train or boat tickets for them, hid them away inside cargo areas, and transported them in wagons or in the hulls of ships.

The slaves of Maryland were commonly sold to people in the Deep South as Maryland?s agriculture shifted from tobacco to grain. This shift in crops created the need for fewer laborers.

The threat of sale far away from family and friends, which separated parents from young children as well, motivated many of these people held in bondage, to seek freedom through running away. Others were motivated by the harsh treatment and an intense desire for freedom.

The freedom seekers faced enormous obstacles. Slave catchers, armed with guns, knives and whips, and hunted them down with vicious attack dogs.

Newspaper ads and wanted posters promised various rewards for the capture of the runaway slaves. Many people were tempted to inform on the runaways. Once captured, the runaway slaves often received horrible physical punishment. They were whipped, branded with the letter ?R? for ?runaway, and mutilated.

As a means to prevent potential financial loss of a slave escaping again, slaveholders would sell captured runaways to slave traders in the Deep South.

When Congress passed ?The Fugitive Slave Act? in 1850, the safety of security of runaway slaves living in the North diminished greatly. As the result of this law, northern police had to capture and return any suspected runaway within their area. Citizens were also required to inform authorities about runaways. The fugitive slaves hiding in the North had become most vulnerable to capture, so many of them fled to Canada where slavery was illegal. At the same time, Abolitionist and Underground Railroad activist worked harder to liberate slaves. Committees in northern cities coordinated elaborate communication and relief networks to help fleeing slaves. There became more and more slave escapes.

The southern slaveholders became more and more frustrated over their increasing losses in Border States like Maryland and Virginia and tightened their grip on both free and enslaved African Americans.

Slaveholders were fully aware of the Underground Railroad as the Civil War approached, but were unsure of the actual operations. Slaveholders thought white abolitionists enticed slaves to run away and did not acknowledge that slaves themselves might want to be free. Some came to suspect free blacks as the most dangerous threat to the slave system.

In Maryland and elsewhere in the South, local governments enforced laws to keep African Americans under the tightest of control. The freedom seekers then became very cautious. Escapes were stopped by the betrayal of friends, family and vigilant whites after the high rewards offered.

These activities continued to draw the nation closer to conflict. The Civil War brought an end of slavery and the need for the Underground Railroad.

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

? 2007 Connie Limon all rights reserved

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *