Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Underground Railroad

In a fury over freedom.
In one of history's rich ironies, the Fugitive Slave Act was virtually suicidal to the South, for it transformed Northern antislavery sentiment. By requiring all citizens to assist in hunting down suspected fugitives, it convinced Northerners that slavery was their problem, not just the South's. It prompted Brahmins to storm the Boston courthouse and ax open the door, in a failed attempt to rescue a fugitive slave who had been detained there. It inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Ulysses S. Grant concluded that the Fugitive Slave Act had triggered the Civil War: It was "a degradation" that Northerners "would not permit," for "they were not willing to play the role of police for the South in the protection of this particular institution." Had it not been for the slaves who continually fled North, and the people who helped them, war and emancipation may have been deferred indefinitely.


Enbrethiliel said...


How ironic indeed! This is one angle I never thought of, but it makes a lot of sense.

Julygirl said...

Even though Maryland is considered a Southern State there were many here with abolitionist sentiments, so as a resident of Maryland I will mention that we have many sites that were part of the 'Underground Railroad' since we are a border state to Pennsylvania. (Maryland was the home of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas.)

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, E. I don't agree with everything in the article but it makes some interesting points.

Yes, Julygirl, that is very true.