The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was a complex network of people and places who help slaves escape from the South to get to the freedom of the North. The Underground Railroad is important because it was a route that slaves took to get to freedom. Springfield was a vital station along the Underground Railroad around the 1830’s. The Underground Railroad was a secret passage developed to help slaves in their escape to freedom. Involvement with the Underground Railroad put you and your family’s lives at risk, and it was illegal. So, to help protect themselves and their mission secret codes were created. The people who helped runaway slaves travel to freedom were called conductors, and the slaves were referred to as cargo. The safe houses used as hiding places along the path of the Underground Railroad were called stations. A lit lantern hung outside of a house would identify these stations.
Because of the danger associated with helping and or housing escaped slaves, there were not many conductors. But there is one very well-known conductor in particular. Her name was Harriet Tubman, and she was an escaped slave herself. She helped her family escape too. She then started helping other slaves escape to freedom. She would go to Missouri and call slaves out with a special whistle. Then, after she had gotten all of the people she could take with her, she would start their journey back to the south. Sometimes, someone would become frightened on the trip, and say to take them back. Tubman, or Moses, as she was called, would point her riffle at their head and say that they keep going, or die right there. Sometimes they would go days without resting because landowners would send out dogs after them, or try to hunt them down. Harriet stayed strong, and they say that she never lost a “passenger”. They walked through the woods, following the North Star, sometimes camping out and sleeping on the cold, damp ground. But always, always, Tubman pulled them through to freedom.
The Underground Railroad Quilt
The Underground Railroad quilt is known as a code associated with the African American slaves. It was a very sophisticated and amazing way to secretly convey messages in connection with the Underground Railroad. The quilt is very important because it was a quilt that spoke to the African American slaves that only they understood that would help them secretly escape from slavery and the only hope and technique that helped them escape slavery. And especially the fact that it was against the law for slaves to learn how to read, it was a code shown in symbols; phrases that were memorized by the slaves that certified the slaves to communicate with each other in secret so their white owners could not interpret. Codes were actually created by both Blacks and Whites helping the slaves. The Blacks included other slaves, earlier slaves or free men and women. In slavery, one way the Blacks could protect themselves from the Whites was a big concealment; that even the youngest child was taught to effectively keep a secret from anyone outside the family.
The History of the Quilt Patterns
Quilt patterns were roots in African traditions the slaves brought with them to North America when they were captured and forced to leave their homeland. The Africans’ technique of recording their history and stories was by committing them to memory and passing them on orally to following generations. Quilt patterns as codes were passed down the same way. It is interesting to note that in Africa the making of textiles was done by males; it was not until the slaves’ arrival in North America that this task fell to the females.