During the 1850’s the South was at its prime and particularly well-off. The nation’s president, Zachary Taylor was from the South and the South seated the most Cabinet members and members on the Supreme Court. Economically the South was prosperous. With the help of slaves the rotation of cotton was booming and cotton fields were expanding. Although things were looking “up”, this economic boom came at the slaves’ expense. Slaves were forced to work in the hot field from sunrise to sunset without being allowed to stop for a drink of water or a bathroom break when needed. If they did not follow their masters’ orders exactly, they were often whipped and beaten. Many slaves dreamed of one day escaping these harsh conditions and gaining their humanity.
Many slaves had heard the story of a woman named Harriet Tubman who had helped slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad. David Kennedy (et.tol) writes from a social filter when describing The Underground Railroad by saying, “This virtual freedom train consisted of an informal chain of “stations” (antislavery homes), through which scores of passengers (runaway slaves) were spirited by conductors (usually white and black abolitionists)from the slave states to the free-soil sanctuary of Canada.” The Underground Railroad was truly a pathway to freedom for slaves. It provided food, transportation, and hiding places for slaves on the run. Many women, children and men escaped the terrors of their previous living conditions.
Although the Underground Railroad was organized, it was a highly risky and dangerous process. Since it was illegal for slaves to escape, slaves who tried to escape were beaten and often times killed. Slave owners offered rewards for a fugitive slaves’ return. Gerald Danzer (et.tol) writes from a social filter when he explains the conditions endured by mentioning, “[…] it meant traveling on foot at night without any sense of distance or... [continues]
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