It was not a railroad. And, it was not under ground. It was a secret network of "stations", safe houses that provided food, clothes and shelter for scared and tired runaway slaves. They were guided by "conductors", brave people who risked their lives to show the runaways the way to freedom.
People who hated slavery tried to help slaves escape to the free states for many years before the name "underground railroad" was first used. These brave people were black and white. Some were whites whose religious beliefs told them that slavery was wrong and evil. Many of them were Quakers. Some were rich and some poor. But they all felt that helping end slavery by helping as many slaves as possible find their freedom was important enough to risk their lives. Some conductors were free blacks from the North who wanted to help their people become free. Some were those who were slaves and escaped. They risked their lives by returning to the slave states where they could be caught and returned to slavery again. Some were famous, like Harriet Tubman or William Lloyd Garrison. But most were simple people we never heard of.
Slaves tried to escape slavery since the first time they saw America. In 1786 a group of Quakers in Pennsylvania helped a group of slaves from Virginia find freedom. This may be the first recorded "underground railroad" escape. And the escapes continued. The name "underground railroad" came from a slave master who thoughtt that one of his runaway slaves disappeared like he entered the underground railroad. The slave was never found.
During the years of slavery, thousands of slaves escaped through the underground railroad. Most of them were young man because they were used to harsh conditions and could survive the long dangerous journey. No one knows how many slaves found their freedom on the underground railroad because it was a work of individuals. These "conductors" worked secretly and never talked about their good deeds.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THESE WORDS MEANT DURING THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TIME?