The Underground Railroad was a journey of hardship and tragedy for many who traveled it. Slaves made the decision to travel this daring road with the help of conductors. This system was called the Underground Railroad because activities were carried on in secret and because railway terms were used to describe the system in order to disguise the real nature of the operation.
For more than four decades before the American Civil War, there was a system that existed in the northern states to help escaped slaves reach places for safety. It was up to the conductors along the Underground Railroad to make sure the slaves stayed healthy. Also, the conductors made sure the slaves were not found by hiding them in closets, fireplaces, trap doors, and basements. All these things made it hard to complete the trip to freedom. Those who were the most active in helping slaves to escape by way of the railroad were Northern Abolitionists and other antislavery groups. Some former slaves were also active in the system. One of these was Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave herself, who helped so many blacks escape to freedom. She became famous as a conductor in the Underground Railroad. Even though the trip was hard to accomplish, many slaves tried the journey in hope of finding freedom. The estimate of slaves that escaped to freedom varied between 40,000 to 100,000. In 1861, the railroads began to cease.