Underground Railroad (Appleby, 2003)

Joyce Appleby, et al., The American Vision (New York: Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2003).
Although the Fugitive Slave Act included heavy fines and prison terms for helping a runaway, whites and free African Americans continued their work with the Underground Railroad. This informal, but well organized system, begun in the early 1830's, helped thousands of enslaved persons escape. Members called ‘conductors', transported runaways north in secret, gave them shelter and food along the way, and saw them to freedom in the Northern states or Canada, with some money for a fresh start.Dedicated people, many of them African Americans, made dangerous trips into the South to guide enslaved persons along the Underground Railroad to freedom. The most famous of these conductors was Harriet Tubman, herself a runaway. She risked many trips to the South.

In Des Moines , Iowa , Isaac Brandt used secret signals to communicate with conductors on the Underground Railroad - a hand lifted palm outwards, for example, or a certain kind of tug at the ear. ‘I do not know how these signs or signals originated,' he later remembered, ‘but they had become well understood. Without them, the operation of the system of running slaves into free territory would not have been possible.'

Levi Coffin, a Quaker born in North Carolina , allowed escaped African Americans to stay at his home in Indiana , where three Underground Railroad converged….An estimated 2,000 African Americans stopped at Coffin's red brick house on their way to freedom. Coffin later moved to Cincinnati , Ohio , where he assisted another 1,300 African Americans who had crossed the river from Kentucky to freedom. A thorn in the side to slaveholders, the Underground Railroad deepened Southern mistrust of Northern intentions.
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