Virtual Field Trip of Underground Railroad in New Bedford, MA

Live far away from Massachusetts or lack school funds to take a field trip? Take your class on a virtual field trip of Underground Railroad sites in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

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The Underground Railroad in New Bedford, Massachusetts

It is estimated that from 300 to 700 hundred fugitive slaves lived in New Bedford between the mid-1840s and 1860. In a city whose official population of color hovered around 1,000 people, the number of fugitive slaves in New Bedford was large even by the more conservative estimate. They had come to the city by the Underground Railroad, neither "underground" nor a "railroad" but a rather a loose network of assistance to persons escaping American slavery. This network was "underground" only in a figurative sense. The activities of runaways and those those who aided them were kept as secret as possible, and this very secrecy makes it difficult to estimate precisely how many Southern slaves fled to the North and to Canada between the 1780s and the Civil War. Surely they number in the tens of thousands. In the 1850s alone, when the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act gave Federal sanction to Southern slave owners' efforts to retrieve escaped slaves, more than 20,000 are believed to have made their way into Canada.

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