From the late 17th century until the American Civil War, a network of routes and safe houses was established that helped to get enslaved African Americans to free states and to Canada. This network and the people who worked to get enslaved people to freedom was generally called the Underground Railroad. Here’s Wikipedia’s description of the Underground Railroad:
The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early-to-mid 19th century, and used by African American slaves to escape into free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. Various other routes led to Mexico or overseas. An earlier escape route running south toward Florida, then a Spanish possession, existed from the late 17th century until shortly after the American Revolution. However, the network now generally known as the Underground Railroad was formed in the early 1800s, and reached its height between 1850 and 1860. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the “Railroad”.
We will be doing several podcasts on the Underground Railroad. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more, here are a few books that you might find interesting, including a novel that has won much acclaim.