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The Underground Railroad (Research Paper Sample)




The Underground Railroad
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History is one area that is naturally interesting. Thus, this particular piece is equally fascinating as it explores a multidimensional spectrum of issues regarding the Underground Railroad. Consequently, it is essential to indicate that the thesis of this paper revolves around the meaning, the purpose and the role of the Underground Railroad in shaping the history of the United States and the world at large. In particular, this paper will explore what the Underground Railroad entails, its purpose throughout its existence, how it was formed, its achievements as well as the manner in which it shaped world history as we see it today. As a point of departure, the issues mentioned in the above thesis statement will also serve to uncover the unknown as well as answer pertinent questions which connect the past with the present so to say.
Definition and origin
The Underground Railroad was a word that was used in describing a network of meeting places, safe houses, passageways and secret routes that were utilized by African-Americans who faced enslavement within the US southern states. Further, it was aided by lead abolitionists who were against the slave trade and thus vowed to assist slaves to move from the south of US states to the northern states or Canada alternatively. It thus became one of the most significant anti-slavery movements in the US history which are estimated to have contributed to the freedom of more than 100 000 slaves from 1810-1850 (Wiggan& Scott, 2014). Similarly, its origins date back to the early 1800s when the abolitionists of slave trade decided to create a flight system to free as many slaves as possible regardless of the fact that such actions were contrary to the state regulations as well as the United States Constitution.
The organization and purpose of the Underground Railroad
A community of abolitionists that was based in Philadelphia was solely responsible for the establishment of the Underground Railroad. Nevertheless, it should also be realized that the term “underground railroad” started being used in the 1830s which coincided with the advent of the railway technology (Wiggan& Scott, 2014). Furthermore, the network was maintained by those who were willing to save depressed slaves and also those who were committed to the promotion of human rights as well as equality of all people. These categories of people associated with the abovementioned network comprised of free blacks, Methodists, Quakers, Baptists, fellow enslaved colleagues, aboriginal sympathizers, Canadians and the inhabitants of some urban centers across the US (Adler, 2013).
Still, in the organization of this movement, there existed several stages, symbols and people who were tasked with different responsibilities in the course of the massive escape of the African-Americans. A closer look at the symbols, codes, station masters, ticket agents as well as the way of promised land all contribute to the organizational framework of the underground railroad and therefore cannot be underestimated.
Symbols and codes
The journey made by both the slaves and those aiding was not easy at all which explains why they had to come up with terminologies and symbols which they understood themselves and whose sole rationale was to keep the slaveholders in total darkness. Thus, those who aided the slaves to escape were referred to as ‘conductors.’ They utilized various forms of transport such as land and water to accomplish their mission. On a similar note, the terms ‘passengers’, ‘cargo,’ ‘ package’ and ‘freight’ were all used to refer to the escaped slaves. Additionally, ‘stations’ in this case referred to as safe houses while the final cities or towns were commonly known as ‘terminals’ (Malaspina, 2009). The symbols that were used mostly were lit candles or lanterns which were placed strategically only understood by the Underground Railroad community of people.
Station masters
The safe houses mentioned above were under the station masters. Their primary role was to receive the escapees, provide meals, change of clothes, resting places as well as the needed financial aid before transferring them to the next station or haven. Some of the notable figures who led from the front in the name of station masters included; Jermaine Loguen, Henrietta Bowers, Laura Havilland among many others just to mention but a few (Smith, 2006).
Ticket agents
The ‘ticket agents’ as they were known enabled the coordination of safe trips to be a success story. They served as the link between the station masters and the escapees. Majority of the ticket agents supplied information on the existence of the network and concealed their activities by engaging in activities like preaching, treating sick people and the other leisure activities. Moreover, it should be understood that the Canadian provinces of Upper and Lower Canada coupled with the northern American states were considered the ‘promised land’ by the participants of the Underground Railroad because they provided the much-needed freedom to the slaves of all kinds.
Purposefully, the large Underground Railroad network served one principal rationale. It was meant to free slaves who were sold and mistreated in the southern US states such as Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. The anticipated freedom of the slaves came in the wake of the abolitionist movement which was propelled by the passage of several Acts of parliament and hence providing the impetus to end slavery and servitude altogether (Smith, 2006).
The figures below are a representation of how the participants of the Underground Railroad took part in the various instances they found themselves entangled.
Figure 1
Figure 2
What did the Underground Railroad achieve?
During its existence, the abovementioned movement resulted in several positive implications within the US territories and even beyond. Some of these achievements include:
The Underground Railroad was credited for making the cooperation between runaway slaves, free-born blacks, and abolitionists of diverse backgrounds, as well as Native Americans, become a reality (Larson, 2009). This cooperation was evidenced by the several successful voyages which ensured safety and delivery of the slaves in the ‘promised lands.’ Hence this fostered a great sense of togetherness which ultimately led to the formation of stronger neighborhoods whenever the victims settled.
Additionally, the movement under question in this excerpt is also credited for having delivered thousands of slavery victims from the bondage of servitude and mistreatment which was a characteristic picturesque of the southern US states. Several figures of those who escaped have been given, but 100000 is the figure that seems to be the estimated number of the escapees (Larson, 2009).
When the Underground Railroad years seemed to be ending, the civil war in the US broke out, and the majority of those who were protagonists in the issue of slavery served in different capacities in the union army. This lead to their victory in 1865 and thus the last nail on the slave trade business in the United States was cast. For instance, a ‘conductor’ in the network, by the name Harriet Tubman served as a spy for the Union army and even led an armed struggle. Further her confidence from the two operations made her one of the most prominent forces in the ideals of women suffrage in the US in her later years of life. Thus, in the long run, African-American men, women, and children were able to live dignifie

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