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Old 06-08-2022, 10:35 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
16,093 posts, read 10,762,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thriftylefty View Post
The underground railroad would have been well established by then. An Abolitionist would only have to get his "cargo" to the next stop. There would be Quakers and friends all along the way. Many conductors along the underground railroad were prominent people who were beyond reproach so it was quite easy for them to do this work in secrecy.
John Brown was once said to drive a wagon with slaves under a tarp and when he had to go through a check point he had a signal to alert the gate keeper that he was transporting slaves and they would not inspect his cargo.
There were people who were not actual "conductors" on the Underground Railway that were supporters. They knew the route and could leave food or clothes at a known location with little personal risk. Once out of a slave state the slave catchers would usually patrol the rivers and highways but the fugitives could move through the creek beds and riparian forest if on their own. I tracked down a country cemetery in Illinois with a ruined stone wall and old antebellum headstones where people could leave things hidden for the fugitives. It was a known waystation maybe 200 feet from the wooded head of a creek that led up from the Illinois River. This was close to a long standing Mennonite farm community who would have been anti-slavery.

Interestingly, we see similar caches left in the desert today as survival supplies for illegals coming across the border.
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Old 06-09-2022, 10:23 AM
 
28,678 posts, read 18,806,457 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Laramie View Post
Another poster pointed out the case of Solomon Northup.

It wasn't unusual for free blacks in the north, even those born free, to be kidnapped into the South and sold into slavery. The only thing unusual about Nothups case was he was eventually able to regain his freedom.

It raises the question: If whites would frequently escort unwilling black people to the south to sell them into slavery, without being caught along the way, why can't the inverse be true, that is,escorting a fully willing black person in the other direction?
Because the Fugitive Slave Act was explicitly set up to expedite the former and to hinder the latter. The Fugitive Slave Act did not even prevent actual white people from being flat-out kidnapped and taken south to become slaves.
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Old 06-09-2022, 11:51 AM
 
Location: The High Desert
16,093 posts, read 10,762,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Laramie View Post
Another poster pointed out the case of Solomon Northup.

It wasn't unusual for free blacks in the north, even those born free, to be kidnapped into the South and sold into slavery. The only thing unusual about Nothups case was he was eventually able to regain his freedom.

It raises the question: If whites would frequently escort unwilling black people to the south to sell them into slavery, without being caught along the way, why can't the inverse be true, that is,escorting a fully willing black person in the other direction?
I know of a case in southern Illinois where a free black man signed a contract (an indenture) to be a farm laborer with a local farmer. He worked off most of the time on his contract and then the Illinois farmer sold the contract to a plantation owner in Mississippi and the worker was then bound over to the plantation owner and enslaved.
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Old 06-09-2022, 11:54 AM
Status: "119 N/A" (set 27 days ago)
 
12,964 posts, read 13,684,417 times
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To give you an idea of the power of the slave owner, Anthony Burns was eventually bought for around $1300.00 and $10.00 per month was what the average farm laborer (free Labor) earned. His owner may of had 200-1000 slaves. Wages were not low due to slaves it was low due to Slave owners. There were two groups of people who wanted slavery to end and they both would do what ever was in their power to break the slave owners back.

I have been in two historic privately owned houses that were part of the underground railroad. One was in the Midwest and one was in the North. They both shared common features. You could enter them from the bank of a river underground and the basement had maze like walls that could easily hide a person.
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Old 06-09-2022, 01:25 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
16,093 posts, read 10,762,339 times
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The total number of slaves that escaped to freedom is unknown, but I have seen the number put at 100,000 successful escapes. That seems quite small to me as there were probably almost that many white abolitionists and conductors engaged in the attempt to free slaves plus the large number of slave catchers and vigilantes trying to catch them. There were almost four-million slaves in the US in 1860 but less than 500,000 free blacks (in a total US population of 31 million).

The number of known Underground Railroad conductors is quite large. There is a list by state and county included as an appendix to "The underground railroad from slavery to freedom" available online at:
https://archive.org/stream/cu3192409...58005_djvu.txt

There surely were many more conductors that were unknown or were only occasionally involved or only when opportunity permitted. Where I lived in Missouri, a slave state with a large anti-slavery German population, there were tales and legends of safe houses but no (or very sparse) verifiable proof or self-described conductors or participants. Slaves escaping from the deep south would not have gone through Missouri when free soil was closer across the Ohio River. Missouri's runaway slaves would have only needed to get to the state border but there are only a few documented escape efforts. One would think that crossing the river into Illinois or walking into Iowa or Kansas would have been relatively easy. It is interesting that the rescue mission, cited above in post #6, was betrayed by the very slaves targeted for rescue resulting in convictions and prison terms for the would-be rescuers.
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Old 06-09-2022, 01:50 PM
 
6,084 posts, read 6,048,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Laramie View Post
Scenario:

The year is 1850. I am an upper middle class white man living in Pennsylvania.

I am traveling in a slave state, such as South Carolina.

I meet a slave named John who wants to be free.

I say: "I can help."

And John and I simply travel north together. Nothing more complex than that.

If anyone asks along the way, he's my slave. But I'm pretty sure people back then would be used to seeing a white guy in public with a slave with them.

I figure the only place an issue could arise would be if we were spotted by slave catchers in the immediate area I am helping him escape from.

If they know the slave and know his master, they would probably take us to said masters plantation and ask him if he sold John to me.

So maybe til we're out of the immediate area, he simply hides under a tarp in my wagon.

I don't think slave patrollers we're in the habit of stopping and searching random white people.

But after we're out of town, we just travel together openly and I doubt people would think anything of a black guy accompanied by a white guy.

Because again, if anyone asks, he's MY slave.

Would it have been that easy?
Even in the free states, one would have to be wary of slave catchers due to the Fugitive Slave Act.

I believe there was recently a movie that depicted how even freemen & freedmen were sometimes sold into slavery even in the "free" states.

Might want to do research for your report on the Underground Railroad.
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Old 06-09-2022, 04:02 PM
 
28,678 posts, read 18,806,457 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Laramie View Post
The fugitive slave act was "explicitly" set up to aid in kidnapping legally freed men of color from the north and selling them into slavery? As in the drafters did this with a case like Solomon Northup's in mind?

Funny how I don't see that in the text of the act, explicit or implied.
You added "legally freed men of color" to the sentence I was responding to.

And I would not doubt that the possibility that some of them would be freedmen occurred to the slaveowners who voted in favor of the Fugitive Slave Act, in that it enslavers needed only to supply an affidavit to a Federal marshal to capture a fugitive from slavery. Since a suspected enslaved person was not eligible for a trial, the law resulted in the kidnapping and conscription of free Blacks into slavery, as suspected fugitive slaves had no rights in court and could not defend themselves against accusations. You think they didn't know about that when they voted the law into effect?
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Old 06-09-2022, 04:19 PM
 
1,047 posts, read 1,015,252 times
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Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has said that he doubts the number of slaves who escaped to the North totaled more than 25,000 during the entire period of slavery from colonial times until the Civil War, and he says that the vast majority of these were young adult males. The federal census slave schedules for 1850 and 1860 had a space for listing the number of slaves who had escaped from each slaveholder during the previous year and who had not been recaptured, and it is rare to see any listed at all. In fact, I don't remember ever seeing such an entry when perusing these documents.

Southern hysteria about the Underground Railroad played into the hands of the abolitionists.

Last edited by deb100; 06-09-2022 at 04:32 PM..
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Old 06-10-2022, 04:12 AM
Status: "119 N/A" (set 27 days ago)
 
12,964 posts, read 13,684,417 times
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By the 1850's the institution of slavery had morphed into something different than what we see on TV. For instance my great grandfather escaped slavery by simply not returning back to the plantation after being allowed to leave. His "owner" allowed him to visit family periodically in a Free State. That was the kind of resistance that The book "The Peculiar Institution" wrote about. I assume my great grandfather always knew once he gained his masters trust he would use it against him. Slaves didn't need any help leaving, they needed help while traveling.
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Old 06-10-2022, 06:22 AM
 
Location: West Virginia
16,677 posts, read 15,684,725 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thriftylefty View Post
By the 1850's the institution of slavery had morphed into something different than what we see on TV. For instance my great grandfather escaped slavery by simply not returning back to the plantation after being allowed to leave. His "owner" allowed him to visit family periodically in a Free State. That was the kind of resistance that The book "The Peculiar Institution" wrote about. I assume my great grandfather always knew once he gained his masters trust he would use it against him. Slaves didn't need any help leaving, they needed help while traveling.
Nobody is doubting that this occurred. The post above yours cites a reference that states that there were only about 25,000 escaped slaves. In 1860, there were about 4,000,000 slaves. During the time slavery existed in the land that became the US, approximately 10,000,000 people were enslaved. That indicates that about 1/4 of 1 percent escaped.

Certainly, it was easier for the occasional slave to cross the border from Maryland to Pennsylvania than it was for one to travel from Alabama to Michigan, but the vast majority of slaves were in the deep south, and your scenario about getting one out is not as plausible as you seem to think.

Some of the plantation owners employed overseers to manage the slave population. Those overseers had whips, guns, and chains to keep the slaves under control.

A successful escaped slave, while greatly admirable, was a very rare thing.
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