The Underground Railroad in American History

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I chose to discuss the issue of the Underground Railroad Movement as a historical theme on the basis of my sensitivity to social phenomena, such as racial prejudice and discrimination. Certainly, this is one aspect of the decision why I started my research on this ambiguous phase of American history. The other one lies in the mystery that surrounds the escape route that helped many African Americans to find their freedom, and future in a more endearing world. This beautiful image had been burnt in my mind long before I started to think about its validity. In the consciousness of the American public the Underground Railroad sometimes comes forward as a literal road with ‘safe houses’, ‘depots’, ‘conductors’, and ‘stationmasters’ waving at the fugitive to come forth, and enter the home of the Underground Railroad ‘agent’ who happens to be a white abolitionist from the north or a Quaker from the Society of Friends. This romanticized retelling of the story, which was nurtured by the ultimate need of direct participants in the 19th century to justify their contribution to end slavery, obliterates the complexity of the movement. Today, this image is validated by site preservation and heritage tourism around the remains of alleged safe houses and depots which clearly illustrates that the Underground Railroad is poorly understood.

African American Studies, slavery and resistance