“The number of those men who know how to use wholly irresponsible power humanely and generously is small. Everybody knows this, and the slave knows it best of all; so that he feels that there are ten chances of his finding an abusive and tyrannical master, to one of his finding a considerate and kind one. Therefore is it that the wail over a kind master is loud and long, as well it may be” (Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom’s Cabin)
The Underground Railroad of the United States served as a secret network used by slaves to escape from their owners to free states in the country and to Canada as well. Abolitionists supported and helped slaves to escape from their relentless owners using the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad had nothing to do neither with underground nor with railroad. In fact the Underground Railroad was a group of people who hide slaves in their homes and helped them to reach northern states of the country. It was secret and illegal. The Underground Railroad had similar structure as an actual railroad. Thus it consisted of a variety of stations, or safe houses where slaves could stay for a while and hide. Many of them were helped and literally conducted. Many white Americans tried to help slaves. An essential role played church especially the Religious Society of Friends, Reformed Presbyterians and Congregationalists.
It is still unknown how many slaves managed to escape from their owners. It is said that probably over 100 000 slaves managed to flee.
The leading figure of the Underground Railroad was Harriet Tubman. Tubman was an African-American humanitarian and abolitionist. She managed herself to escape from her owners. Tubman helped 70 slaves to escape from their masters. Moreover she made several missions aimed at preventing slavery in the United States. Tubman’s life was difficult. Her master beat her all the time. It caused serious health problems. Thus it is known that she suffered from severe headaches and even narcoleptic attacks. She rescued her family and relatives. It was very risky deal. But Tubman was really courageous woman.
Levi Coffin was another remarkable and outstanding man who along with his wife helped lots of slaves. He was an abolitionist and a member of the Religious Society of friends.
The whole network was intricate and it was really difficult to find fugitives. As the rule they used trains and boats. But sometimes they had to escape on foot.