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Harriet Tubman And Underground Railroad

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“Oppressed slaves should flee and take Liberty Line to freedom.” The Underground Railroad began in the 1780s while Harriet Tubman was born six decades later in antebellum America. The Underground Railroad was successful in its quest to free slaves; it even made the South pass two acts in a vain attempt to stop its tracks. Then, Harriet Tubman, an African-American with an incredulous conviction to lead her people to the light, joins the Underground Railroad’s cause becoming one of the leading conductors in the railroad. The Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman aided in bringing down slavery and together, they put the wood in the fires leading up to the Civil War. The greatest causes of the Civil War were the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman due conflict and mistrust over slavery they created between the North and South.

In the 1780s, the Quaker formed what is now known as the Underground Railroad or Liberty Line. The Liberty Line was a vast network of anti-slavery Northerners. It was comprised of free African-Americans and Caucasians in favor of abolition. The escapees (mostly upper South slaves whom were young males without families) traveled at night while using the North Star for guidance. Generally, the runaway slaves were on the lookout for farms where they could receive help or vigilance committees where anti-slavery towns and sympathetic free blacks could hide them. Whenever an opportunity came up, a conductor would meet the runaways to help them to Canada. They often used lake ports as terminals to safely and quickly transport slaves to Canada. The Underground Railroad was highly successful; it had lent a hand to some 60,000 slaves. As Henry David Thoreau said, “The only free road, the Underground Railroad, is owned and managed by the Vigilant Committee. They have tunneled under the whole breadth of the land.”

The effect the Underground Railroad had on the South and North. Farmers in the South depended on slaves to be able to keep their plantations and their way of life. Cotton farming was basically the economy of the South, and it was not an easy crop to manage and without a proper work force to back it up it would falter; thus, destroying the South. Slaves were the work force behind the enormous cotton plantations making them the most important property a farmer in the South owned, and they were being stolen forming a distrust of the North in the South. The Underground Railroad was wiping out the Southerners by indirectly destroying their economic structure by taking away a farmer’s ability to manage huge cotton plantations though using slave labor. With a slowly decaying economy, peoples’ lives become worse, and they can not care for themselves properly nor feed and clothe themselves; this can be seen in the South. When the South looks for the source of all their problems, it all comes back to the Underground Railroad, and the Northerners working in it which causes the South to create its own animosity towards Northerners. Also, we have the North which has many slaves escaping to it from the help of the Liberty Line creating an exchange of information and experiences with the white Northerners. Northerners were slowly but continuously fed with tales of torture, pain, and hardships that slaves faced in their everyday lives by freed blacks or fugitive slaves. They soon knew what slavery was: it was nothing more than an abomination that should be abolished from the United States. Northerners like John Adams of Massachusetts, our second president, even said,” Consenting to slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust, as offensive in the sight of God as it is derogatory from our own honor or interest of happiness.” From this, the abolition movement grew. Now, conflict can be seen between the North and South. The North wanted to abolish slavery because it is pure evil while the South wanted to keep slaves to be able to maintain their way of life-a schism between the two slowly spawned leading to the Civil War.

The South did not stand idle while everything they knew and loved was heading towards destruction. In retaliation to the Liberty Line, Southerners had Congress pass acts to maintain their black gold. The first act was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793; it gave the owner of a slave the ability to retrieve his property. This act was in vain for the North reacted swiftly by passing personal liberty laws which protected accused fugitive slaves. The South continued with their futile attempt to gain back what was rightfully theirs by having Congress pass the Fugitive Slave act of 1850 in the Compromise of 1850 to reinforce the previous act. It was more lengthy and well thought out .For example, section eight states, “in all cases where the proceedings are before a commissioner, he shall be entitled to a fee of ten dollars in full for his services in each case”. There was more motivation for a government official to aid farmers in retrieving slaves. Commissioners received twice as much as what they used to for their services. Also, section six of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 states that “In no trial or hearing under this act shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence.” Slaves were treated like slaves and given no say in their fate even if they were free. The Act even forced marshals or deputy marshals to execute warrants for in Section five of the act states that “should any marshal or deputy marshal refuse to receive such warrant, or other process, when tendered, or to use all proper means diligently to execute the same, he shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in the sum of one thousand dollars.” People could not afford to lose that kind of money at the time. There was no choice but to issue warrants if you were a marshal or deputy marshal.

The Fugitive Acts of 1793 and 1850 or “The Man-stealing Law(s)”were the direct consequences of the Underground Railroad. Both of these acts increased tensions and anxieties between the opposing North and South. The North saw the acts as an excuse to kidnap enslaved blacks and free blacks alike, and they resented the fact that a farmer had the right to reclaim a slave even when he or she had a new life. However, as previously explained, northern states had passed personal liberty laws to bypass the act in 1793 which causes the act in 1850 to come. The North could not just walk around the act made in 1850; instead, they defied it and came up with solutions. Northerners took abolition to an extreme because they began to defy the law itself. An example of northern disobedience to the acts can be seen when Northerners



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