The modern understanding of the Underground Railroad is a distorted view of a network comprised of white abolitionist “stationmasters,” “safe houses,” and “conductors.” Nineteenth and early twentieth century historians portrayed the Underground Railroad as a highly elaborate, organized network of escape routes, absent of African American contribution. The romanticized vision of the network conformed to the Southern popular culture Lost Cause phenomena. Later scholars argued the Underground Railroad should be viewed as a form of resistance, a human network, fueled by the buoyancy of fugitive slaves and free blacks to end slavery.
From the inception of slave escapes, the tenacious efforts of black communities constituted the foundation of support for fugitives. After the formation of the modern image of the Underground Railroad white abolitionists’ attempts to minimize black involvement, however, African Americans maintained their position at the forefront of slave resistance.
The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Borderland.