The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by African-American slaves to escape into free states, Canada and Nova Scotia with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The Underground Railroad was formed in the late 1700s and reached its height between 1850 and 1860. One estimate suggests that by 1850, one hundred thousand slaves had escaped via the "Railroad".
British North America (present-day Canada), where slavery was prohibited, was a popular destination, as its long border gave many points of access. Most former slaves settled in Ontario. More than 30,000 people were said to have escaped there via the network during its 20-year peak period, although U.S. Census figures account for only 6,000. Numerous fugitives' stories are documented in the 1872 book The Underground Railroad Records by William Still, an abolitionist who then headed the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee.
- What was the Underground Railroad?
- True or False: Slaves seeking freedom depended on the Underground Railroad and ventured through it alone and without help.
- Why was Canada a popular escape destination for slaves?
- How were individual accounts of the Underground Railroad passed along through generations?
- How many years was the "railroad" in existence?