How do you start a Underground Railroad research paper? Our expert writers suggest like this:
The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad. Still, it was responsible for helping thousands of slaves find their way to freedom. This research paper will examine the activities of the Underground Railroad in Kentucky as well as slavery in America. It will review primary and secondary literature to describe several views regarding the development and success of this response to slavery prior to the Civil War. Like the Underground Railroad that operated throughout the south and northern border states, the Kentucky abolitionists helped many African-Americans escape the South and find freedom in the North.
Slave States and the Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad first developed in the states that bordered slave states, where slaves traveled if they were fortunate enough to escape, with or without a railroad. According to Siebert, there were many that lived along these borders that did not agree with slavery, and although they were bound by law to return runaway slaves, they often preferred to help them escape. This research paper will discuss how this was the nature of the Underground Railroad. Slowly, the connections of safe house grew until slaves were safely smuggled form southern bondage to northern freedom as far away as Canada.
There were many euphemisms for slaves that traveled throughout the network of Northern pathways to freedom for escaped African American slaves. The most famous one was the “Underground Railroad”. Beyond being a means for transportation for the fleeing slaves, railroad terminology served as code in communication between slaves and those running the trails to freedom. The following were well-known:
- Stations = Homes and businesses where slaves could rest and eat
- Stationmasters = Those that ran the stations
- Stockholders = Contributors of money to the “Underground Railroad”
- Conductor = In charge of moving slaves safely from one place to another
These codes were needed to keep the Underground Railroad a secret and insure the safety of freed slaves.
African slaves from Kentucky were among the first to find their way to Canada. By 1860, approximately 500 slaves escaped to Canada each year. Among the escaped slaves that carried the word of Canadian emancipation were Josiah Henson and Harriet Tubman, two escaped slaves. A Canadian physician named Dr. Alexander Ross made trips through Kentucky to inform slaves about Canadian laws forbidding slavery.
Levi Coffin and the Underground Railroad
Levi Coffin was a white man who became an abolitionist at a young age. In Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, he tells the story of what it was like to help slaves legally find their freedom. While living in Cincinnati, it was very unpopular to be an abolitionist, such as Coffin, yet was well connected with many people along the Underground Railroad. He notes that many slaves often came from Kentucky with hardly any clothes or provisions, and he and other families would help feed and cloth them for the trip farther north. Coffin writes that slaves would find ways to make a little extra money, then pay a white man to help them cross the Ohio River, out of Kentucky, and guide them to the underground railroad.