THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Slavery was the reason the Underground Railroad existed. Despite having the smallest number of slaves of any state in the South prior to the Civil War, Delaware’s legal, social, and economic foundations stood firmly in support of the institution of slavery and aligned it with its neighboring slaveholding states. Its close proximity, however, to Free states also made it an important corridor for Virginia and Maryland freedom seekers striking for liberty further north.
The Underground Railroad was an evolving system and network of real people, places, and methods – including modes of transportation, means of disguise and deception, and other schemes of thwarting barriers to the pursuit of freedom -
Revolution and the desire of people to be free and in control of their own lives. This movement expanded politically and geographically over time, from isolated independent action, to organized and well-
The Underground Railroad was a real set of paths to freedom. Individuals and groups of people tended these paths from a variety of ethnic, cultural, religious, and social backgrounds, and they were devoted to helping enslaved people find their way to freedom. They believed that slavery was wrong and that all people deserved to be free. The name “Underground Railroad” first appeared in the early 1820s during the development of the railroad industry and the invention of rail cars. These secret routes to freedom had been working to help slaves run away for many years before then and arguably since the first enslaved Africans landed on the shores of America. People who participated in this illegal and secret business called themselves agents, conductors, engineers, and stationmasters, names of positions on actual railroads. Enslaved people who were fleeing slavery are sometimes referred to as runaway slaves, freedom seekers and self-
Its operations were illegal so secrecy and confidentiality were critical. The risks were enormous, particularly for self-