Underground Railroad station back porch
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Caption reads "Opening in back porch of house, located at 408 East Sixth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, where slaves are said to have been stored awaiting shipment during slavery days. Photo by Writers' Projects. District #2. 11-12-36." The Underground Railroad was a system of safe houses and hiding places that helped runaway slaves escape to freedom in Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere outside of the United States. White and African-American "conductors" served as guides from place to place for runaway slaves. It remains unclear when the Underground Railroad began, but members of the Society of Friends, who were also known as the Quakers, were actively assisting runaway slaves as early as the 1780s. Some people living in Ohio began to help runaways by the 1810s. Several prominent abolitionists were from Ohio and they played a vital role in the Underground Railroad. Beginning in the late 1840s, Levi Coffin, a resident of Cincinnati, helped more than three thousand slaves escape from their masters and gain their freedom in Canada. Coffin's work caused his fellow abolitionists to nickname him the "president of the Underground Railroad." In Ripley, Presbyterian minister John Rankin served as a conductor and opened his home to African Americans seeking freedom. His home stood on a three hundred-foot high hill that overlooked the Ohio River. Rankin would signal runaway slaves in Kentucky with a lantern and let them know when it was safe for them to cross the Ohio River. He provided the runaways with shelter and kept them hidden until it was safe to travel further north. John Parker, Rankin's neighbor, brought hundreds of runaway slaves across the Ohio River in a boat. These men and many other people risked their lives to assist African Americans in their flight to freedom. Once they arrived in Ohio, some runaway slaves who decided to remain in the state. They usually settled in neighborhoods with other African Americans. Many runaway slaves continued on to Canada. At least eight cities, including Ashtabula, Painesville, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, Huron, Lorain, and Conneaut, along Lake Erie served as starting points to transport the former slaves to freedom in Canada. Historian Wilbur Siebert believes approximately three thousand miles of Underground Railroad trails existed in Ohio.
Ohio Federal Writers' Project
- Ohio Digital Network
- Contributing Institution
- Ohio History Connection
- Ohio Guide Collection
- Cincinnati (Ohio)--Buildings, structures, etc
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- No Copyright - In the United States:The organization that has made the Item available believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information.
- Chicago citation style
- Ohio Federal Writers' Project. Underground Railroad station back porch. 1930s. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p267401coll34/id/3879. (Accessed May 28, 2023.)
- APA citation style
- Ohio Federal Writers' Project, (1930s) Underground Railroad station back porch. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p267401coll34/id/3879
- MLA citation style
- Ohio Federal Writers' Project. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America <http://www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p267401coll34/id/3879>.