Making Freedom: The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery

Making Freedom: The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery

Making Freedom: The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery

Making Freedom: The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery

Synopsis

The 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, which mandated action to aid in the recovery of runaway slaves and denied fugitives legal rights if they were apprehended, quickly became a focal point in the debate over the future of slavery and the nature of the union. In Making Freedom, R. J. M. Blackett uses the experiences of escaped slaves and those who aided them to explore the inner workings of the Underground Railroad and the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, while shedding light on the political effects of slave escape in southern states, border states, and the North.
Blackett highlights the lives of those who escaped, the impact of the fugitive slave cases, and the extent to which slaves planning to escape were aided by free blacks, fellow slaves, and outsiders who went south to entice them to escape. Using these stories of particular individuals, moments, and communities, Blackett shows how slave flight shaped national politics as the South witnessed slavery beginning to collapse and the North experienced a threat to its freedom.

Excerpt

Over the last few years, there has been reawakened interest in the operations of the Underground Railroad (UGRR), an interest that has risen to levels not seen since the 1890s, when the children of those involved in aiding slaves escape sought to preserve (and some would say glorify) the memory of their parents and the work they did in what was, by any measure, the most clandestine aspect of the antebellum abolitionist movement. The new history is more dispassionate in its praise of the range and effectiveness of the efforts of those who participated in the movement. It has also widened its coverage to include many who, in the earlier histories, had been thought to have played little or only peripheral roles. But most important of all, the new studies assess the work of the slaves themselves in affecting their own freedom. This new approach reflects a corresponding popular interest in the abolitionist movement. There are local, state, and federal government agencies devoted to promoting the study of the movement, websites that provide invaluable information on local events, countless conferences devoted to the theme, and national and local museums that explore the meaning of freedom and the workings of the UGRR. In . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.