A Daring Network to Freedom - Seeker's Thoughts

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Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

A Daring Network to Freedom

 Enslaved people risked their lives to flee into northern free states and Canada, supported by sympathetic Northerners who helped runaways evade Federal laws; such individuals became known as conductors; typically former slaves themselves.

William Still interviewed many participants in The Underground Railroad: A Daring Network to Freedom. Notable conductors included Quakers like Levi Coffin and Harriet Tubman.

John and Mary Ritchie House

The National Park Service will add 19 new locations to its Network to Freedom program, which recognizes and commemorates those who made great sacrifices in helping enslaved Americans escape slavery. One such site is Bowne House in Flushing, Queens; designated a research facility due to its vast archives on the Underground Railroad, Bowne House marks New York City's inaugural Network to Freedom site while adding to over 695 National Park Service-designated Network to Freedom sites across the nation that serve as research facilities on Underground Railroad history.

The John and Mary Ritchie House was one of the earliest safe houses in Topeka, Kansas, hosting about 250 fugitives from slavery. Run by dedicated abolitionists who encouraged these former slaves to take control of their own future while helping build community organizations as well as loaning money for activities they sponsored.

Touring this home, now operated as a Cox Communication heritage education center, provides visitors with insight into its family's many contributions to abolition. They can see where fugitives slept and read about those who met there; there is even an immersive Hall of Courage filled with looped archival film clips and artifacts detailing this period in Kansas history - Bleeding Kansas.

This home, designated a National Historic Landmark by the US government, also served as the official location of Kansas' Underground Railroad. Thousands of fugitives traveled along its banks seeking freedom.

This house also hosts an exhibition about the Underground Railroad in general and John Ritchie's role as a free state advocate. Ritchie led efforts to remove "whiteness" as an eligibility criterion and battled federal troops at two constitutional conventions during Kansas' bleeding era; eventually he was arrested and sent to Lecompton jail but managed to escape before finding refuge in Indiana for nearly one year before his imprisonment was lifted by courts there.

Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site

Levi and Catharine Coffin's modest eight-room Federal brick home in Fountain City (then called Newport) served as one of Indiana's busiest Underground Railroad stops for more than two decades, offering sanctuary to runaway slaves seeking freedom in the early 1860s. Over two thousand freedom seekers passed through its doors seeking refuge at this "Grand Central Station" of sorts on this legendary journey to freedom.

This house, now designated a National Historic Landmark and Interpretive Center, is open for public visitation. Visitors should come learn about the incredible abolitionist work undertaken by this family during their time in Fountain City; together they also assisted other families working on the Underground Railroad to free enslaved men, women and children in southern states.

Coffin's farm served as a central point for three escape routes to Canada and sure freedom: Greenville, Ohio; Madison and Jeffersonville in Indiana; Cabin Creek in southwestern Randolph County across Lake Erie to Sandusky in Ohio before proceeding directly into Ontario in Canada. By shifting fugitives onto different paths it became easier to evade slave hunters and avoid capture.

Ripley area Underground Railroad stops include the Blackford Ferry, which operated between the Potomac River and Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from 1812-1912. Owned and operated by John Blackford with help from Jupe and Ned, this ferry played a crucial role in Harriet Tubman and other abolitionists aboard it during this period. Estimates show hundreds of slaves escaped their bonds on its sails during its operation period and joined Harriet Tubman and other abolitionists aboard its decks during this period!

Oviatt House in Richfield is one of the many important Underground Railroad locations in this region, where Mason Oviatt assisted enslaved people to escape their plantations masters and reach freedom. Additionally, Elliot and Rose Plantation located in Ripley witnessed a violent slave revolt which resulted in deadly battle between slaves and white militia.

Blackford Ferry

Throughout the 19th century, an underground network comprised of both black and white people provided safe houses, supplies, and information to enable enslaved Americans to escape to freedom. This clandestine network became known as the Underground Railroad and operated from mid-18th century until after Civil War.

The Underground Railroad employed safe houses as transfer points along a network of routes spanning 14 Northern states and two British North American colonies from Missouri to Canada, from Missouri to Canada. These lines were usually identified with symbols like stars or gourds to mark them.

Abolitionists provided safe passage for fugitives via their network of friends and associates, including former slaves who served as conductors or guides. Conductors aided fugitives in transportation, escorts, money, food shelter and clothing provision as well as avoid detection from slave-catchers. Conductors sometimes disguised themselves as former enslaved people in order to help avoid detection by slave-catchers.

The most popular route led up the Appalachians and into Harper's Ferry, where John Brown established the first Underground Railroad station. Other escaped Africans took more direct routes by traveling by train directly from Africa into Buffalo or Albany New York where they could cross Lake Erie or Niagara River into Canada by waterway.

Many fugitives traveled in groups of one to three for safety and comfort, using both walking or riding on foot to transport their belongings in cloth bags and blankets stuffed with hay or soft bedding material, carrying religious texts such as the Bible or Quran; medical supplies; as well as food. Children sometimes accompanied them, acting as lookouts who could help alert them of potential danger and provide food.

Though faced with numerous difficulties, most fugitives eventually reached their goal of freedom. Estimates vary between 40,000 to 100,000 who successfully made it out via the Underground Railroad; it helped abolitionists gain support in the North for anti-slavery measures while convincing Southerners that slavery could never endure as part of America as an institution.

The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead's 2016 National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, is an engaging drama that provides an uncompromising examination of systemic racism and white supremacy in America. Jenkins deftly steers it away from becoming an action thriller while keeping its focus squarely on white America's treatment of black Americans.

Pensicola Pass

Passes were an essential stop along a network of escape and flight routes in the 1800s for slaves seeking liberty, such as those leading them from Massachusetts and New Hampshire to freedom-seekers from Florida and Jamaica. Here, freedom-seekers connected with a clandestine network that supported their journey - this legacy lives on through The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom which honors those who risked everything for liberty as well as those who helped them on their journeys; commemorating their stories along the way while honoring, preserving, and promoting history worldwide resistance through escape and flight resistance and flight history worldwide!

Of all the routes to freedom, some fugitives took more adventurous routes. They may take off by horseback, carriage, wagon or train; use boats across lakes, rivers and seas; seek refuge in homes, barns or churches; establish businesses including grocery stores, hat shops, pharmacies, herbal treatment services, carpentry or blacksmithing and so forth - these were among many methods used.

Fugitive slaves who wanted to escape would often end up in Iowa, which at that time was considered free thanks to the Missouri Compromise of 1820. According to this agreement, no state north of 36th parallel could become slave states - making Iowa an attractive choice as an escape route between Missouri in the south and Illinois in the east.

Iowa did not have a network of organized aid networks to assist enslaved people escaping slavery, but Harriet Tubman still visited and contributed her services as conductor for the Underground Railroad. She connected fugitives with people who could provide shelter or transportation north - becoming a valuable resource in helping many flee from slavery, even leading a raid against Combahee Ferry in June 1863!

Barry Jenkins' adaptation of Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2016 novel is an epic retelling of American history, offering a powerful depiction of white America's unjust treatment of Black people, while simultaneously showing Cora (portrayed by Thuso Mbedu ) fleeing rather than seeking freedom - an uncompromising portrayal.

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